Japan’s hostility towards crypto assets is unlikely to change anytime soon, as the new head of the financial industry watchdog recently reiterated the country’s tough regulatory stance.

Junichi Nakajima, the new commissioner of the Financial Services Agency (FSA) who took office in July, reiterated the government’s approach towards crypto assets in an interview with Bloomberg in August. “We need to consider carefully whether it is necessary to make it easier for the general public to invest in crypto assets,” he was quoted as saying.

Yuri Suzuki, Senior Partner at Atsumi & Sakai, thinks the stance is “reasonable” for a developed country with its own stable currency. “Japan has been gradually strengthening regulation on crypto assets after several high-profile incidents such as thefts by hackers,” she says.

Japan amended financial regulation-related laws, implementing regulations governing stock trading to the trading of crypto assets, such as banning insider trading and spreading false information to raise asset prices.

“Speculative interests from some investors created a very volatile market. As a result, other investors made big losses. There were also fraud cases involving crypto assets. And we have the money laundering problem, which is considered relatively easier in crypto assets as it’s borderless,” says Suzuki. “The easing of regulations is unlikely.”

So Saito, founder of So & Sato Law Offices, agrees with the outlook. “Some incidents such as investors’ making huge losses from ICO booms and…hackings led to tightened regulations.” Unless it becomes profitable to operate under even Japan’s strict regulations, the conventional crypto asset trading cannot survive, he says.

Crypto asset regulations in Japan have been among the strictest globally, and even before the above-mentioned amendments, trading platform providers were required to obtain approvals from the government for many things including what kinds of assets to be traded on a platform.

This has resulted in a sluggish industry, unlike counterparts in the U.S., Europe and other countries, says Saito.

“Japanese regulatory terms may not be very different from the ones currently proposed in the E.U., but the way the government implement them is far stricter than the actual regulations,” says Takafumi Ochiai, partner at Atsumi & Sakai.


That said, lawyers see opportunities in relatively new kinds of digital assets such as stablecoins, NFT (non-fungible tokens) and DeFi (decentralized finance), which are separate from cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.

A stablecoin is a type of cryptocurrency that its value is pegged to non-crypto assets, such as the U.S. dollar, the yen or gold. This helps stabilize prices and reduce risks of large losses. An NFT is a digital asset that represents virtual items such as paintings, sculpture, music, in-game items and so on. Every NFT is in theory unique and cannot be exchanged like-for-like with another NFT. And DeFi is a way to execute financial transactions through applications that cuts out traditional financial institutions and intermediaries, and is conducted on the blockchain.

All of these pose few risks in terms of market volatility, and have the poten-tial to become parts of a new, vibrant industry, say the lawyers.

Atsumi & Sakai currently advises crypto assets trading platforms, those who are seeking opportunities to provide Japanese consumers with payment services using crypto assets, and disputes involving crypto assets, while keeping an eye on business and policy developments among emerging crypto assets such as NFTs, says Suzuki.

Meanwhile, So & Sato mainly advises development of new products involving crypto assets, says Saito. “Recently, we have many DeFi, NFT and crypto fund cases, and considering enhancing capability to advise in these areas,” he notes.






鈴木弁護士は、「投機目的に使われて市場が乱高下し、その他の投資家が大きな損失を出したり、暗号資産を使った詐 欺 がありました 。マネー ロンダリングも、暗号資産はボーダーレスですから比較的容易にできる、という問題もあります」とし、日本政府が「規制緩和に動く可能性は低い」と指摘する。

創・佐藤法律事務所の共同代表であ る斎藤創弁護士も、この見解に同意する。「消費者保護はイニシャル・コイン・オファリング(ICO)ブームで損をした人がいたり…ハッキングを受けたり、ということの防止のためです」と述べ、日本の厳しい規制の下でも利益が出るようにならなければ、従来型の暗号資産取引は生き残れないだろうと語る。






ステーブルコインとは暗号通貨の一種で、その価値が米ドルや円などの法定通貨や金などの非暗号資産に裏付けされている。そのため、価格がより安定し、投資家が多額の損失を被るリスクを軽減することができる。NFTは、絵画、彫刻、音楽、ゲーム内アイテムなど、仮想空間のデジタル資産を指す。理論上、すべてのNFTは唯一無二のユニークな資産で、他の同種のNFTと交換することはできない。DeFiは、従来の金融機関や仲介業者を通さず、アプリケーションを使ってブロ ックチェーン上で行われる金融取引の方法だ。





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