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Japan to add digital yen to its 2020 agenda

By Yana Berman

After urging G7 to catch up with Chinese digital asset plans, Japan decides to develop its own virtual currency

Japanese ruling party lawmakers hope to create and launch the digital yen within two to three years, Reuters reports.

The move was announced by Kozo Yamamoto, the head of research commission on the finance and banking systems at the leading Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). The plan of digital currency launch will be included to the government's mid-year policy guidelines.

Yamamoto revealed Japan's plan to develop its own digital currency while commenting on Facebook's attempts to launch its crypto project Libra.

“The sooner the better. We’ll draft proposals to be included in the government’s policy guidelines and hopefully make it happen in two-to-three years,” he told Reuters.

His comments follow last week's statement made by another renowned LDP member, former economy minister Akira Amari. Speaking of digital assets, he urged G7 officials to counter China's plan to launch digital yuan and prevent its domination on the market.

Yamamoto told Reuters that he would work with Amari to push the digital yen proposals to the government.

Japan was among the early adopters of cryptocurrencies. The exchange businesses in the country are regulated by the Payment Services Act that came into effect in 2017. To operate a crypto business in the country, one must apply for a special licence.

In 2018, following the major hack of local exchange Coincheck, local crypto businesses formed a self-regulation body that oversees the crypto industry in Japan. Currently, the exchanges are forced to check the identities of their customers and keep transaction records, notifying the government when suspicious crypto transfers take place.

Meanwhile, cryptocurrencies in China are still considered risky and are banned from public trading. However, the project of digital yuan has been developed for quite a while and the virtual asset is set to launch in 2020.

FURTHER READING: Japanese lawmakers push for digital currencies talks at G7

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