Meet the Man Making Japan an Oasis for Bitcoin Startups
The man who single-handedly made Japan an oasis for bitcoin entrepreneurs was holding court with political supporters. The price of admission: $83.75.
Squeezed into a tiny private room at a Chinese restaurant not far from Tokyo’s capitol hill, Mineyuki Fukuda was at the head of the table with a half-dozen techies. Fukuda started by explaining how he, a second-term lawmaker on an obscure subcommittee overseeing electronic payment systems, wound up in charge of Japan’s bitcoin policy.
Nine months ago, no more than a handful of Japanese officials had even heard of the digital currency, let alone something called Mt. Gox, a bitcoin bank run by a Frenchman who just happened to live in Tokyo. After $473 million worth of virtual money was stolen by hackers, the government was finally forced to ask: What is bitcoin? And, more importantly, who should regulate it?
‘The finance ministry didn’t want to deal with it. Neither did the trade ministry,’ said the 50-year-old politician, a skinny pink necktie and an unruly shock of dark hair accenting his gray suit. ‘It fell to me.’
To get the facts, Fukuda went on a listening tour. He met with traders, programmers and merchants to find out how bitcoin works, and how it doesn’t. A popular blog showed him posing next to a computer rig with its circuit boards exposed, and smiling with an entrepreneur who looked more like a skateboarder than a businessman.
This post was published at Bloomberg on Dec 3, 2014.