Bitcoin is still something of a novelty in Japan, and was largely unknown in the country until the collapse of the Tokyo-based Mt.Gox exchange earlier this year. Although the exchange is currently going through bankruptcy proceedings in the Japanese court system, only a handful of its customers and creditors were in the country. As a result, lawmakers have little incentive to implement new economic policies when only a tiny minority of virtual currency users live in Japan.
Shortly after the Mt.Gox collapse, several Japanese politicians demanded new regulations for cryptocurrency in the country. Japan’s Senior Finance Minister Jiro Aichi called for international partnerships in bitcoin regulation, and an official investigation into bitcoin’s legal status in the country was launched in March. Since that time, the government has followed the U.S.’s example and declared that bitcoin is not a currency, but rather a taxable property.