Japan considers making bitcoin a legal currency

Japan’s governing Liberal Democratic party is planning to propose legal changes that would define bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as currencies.

The changes would mean bitcoin could be more tightly regulated and taxed, and are likely to lead to more investment in developing cryptocurrency infrastructure in Japan.

Tomonori Kanda, an official in the financial affairs section at the party’s headquarters, said legislative changes were discussed on Wednesday and the LDP aimed to raise the matter in parliament.

“There is a long way to go,” he said. “But we have discussed reform and believe it is the right way to go.” The timing of the change was yet to be decided, he said.

Japan considers bitcoin a commodity. The new definition would consider anything that can be exchanged for goods and services or legal tender as a currency, bringing bitcoin, dogecoin and many other cryptocurrencies into the fold.

According to a report in the Nikkei newspaper, the changes were proposed by government body the Financial Services Agency. However, an FSA official in Tokyo refused to confirm that any changes to legislation were being considered.

“We have not decided anything yet,” the official said. “The way things work here is that any change would have to be approved by parliament first, and then we would work on writing the legislation.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, the official declined to comment on whether the FSA had proposed the legislative changes.

Japan, the home of Mt. Gox, the bitcoin exchange that folded in 2014 and lost coins worth hundreds of millions of pounds, has been looking for ways to keep a closer eye on cryptocurrencies and prevent another disaster.

Mark Karpeles, the former chief executive of Mt. Gox, is being held by Japanese authorities and has been charged with embezzlement.

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