Japan punishes Coincheck after $530 million cryptocurrency theft
by UNTV News | Posted on Monday, January 29th, 2018
Cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck’s signboard is pictured in front of a building where their office is located, in Tokyo, Japan January 29, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s financial regulator on Monday ordered Coincheck to get its act together after hackers stole $530 million worth of digital money from its exchange, jolting the nation’s cryptocurrency market in one of the biggest cyber heists.
The theft highlights the vulnerabilities in trading an asset that global policymakers are struggling to regulate and the broader risks for Japan as it aims to leverage the fintech industry to stimulate economic growth.
The Financial Services Agency (FSA) said on Monday it has ordered improvements to operations at Tokyo-based Coincheck, which on Friday suspended trading in all cryptocurrencies except bitcoin after hackers stole 58 billion yen ($534 million) of NEM coins, among the most popular digital currencies in the world.
Coincheck said on Sunday it would return about 90 percent with internal funds, though it has yet to figure out how or when.
The FSA is due to brief media on the matter at 2 p.m.
Japan started to require cryptocurrency exchange operators to register with the government only in April 2017, allowing pre-existing operators such as Coincheck to continue offering services ahead of formal registration.
The FSA has registered 16 cryptocurrency exchanges so far, and another 16 or so are still awaiting approval while continuing to operate.
Coincheck has said its NEM coins were stored in a “hot wallet” instead of the more secure “cold wallet”, outside the internet.
NEM fell to $0.78 from $1.01 on Friday, before recovering to around $0.97 on Monday, according to CoinMarketCap.
Singapore-based NEM Foundation said it had a tracing system on the NEM blockchain and that it had “a full account” of all of Coincheck’s lost NEM coins.
It added that the hacker had not moved any of the funds to any exchange or personal accounts but that it had no way to independently return the stolen funds to its owners.
In 2014, Tokyo-based Mt. Gox, which once handled 80 percent of the world’s bitcoin trades, filed for bankruptcy after losing around half a billion dollars worth of bitcoins. More recently, South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Youbit last month shut down and filed for bankruptcy after being hacked twice last year.
World leaders meeting in Davos last week issued fresh warnings about the dangers of cryptocurrencies, with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin relating Washington’s concern about the money being used for illicit activity.
Many countries have clamped down on exchanges.
South Korea will ban crytocurrency traders from using anonymous bank accounts to crack down on the criminal use of virtual coins. China has ordered some exchanges to close, with the aim of containing financial risks.
But Japan has taken a different tack, becoming last year the first country to introduce national-level regulation of cryptocurrency exchanges.
The move, intended to protect consumers and stymie money laundering, was praised by many traders and operators as progressive.
Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki, Takahiko Wada, Thomas Wilson, Chang-Ran Kim in TOKYO, Vidya Ranganathan in SINGAPORE; Writing by Chang-Ran Kim
by Robie de Guzman | Posted on Friday, July 12th, 2019
Calls in South Korea for a boycott of Japanese goods have been growing in response to Tokyo’s curbs on the export of high-tech material to Seoul, as a dispute over compensation for forced wartime labour roiled ties between the countries.
Some South Korean supermarkets on Thursday (July 11) removed Japanese products from shelves as more social media users posted “Boycott Japan” messages and shared a link to a list of Japanese brands, including Toyota Motor and Fast Retailing’s Uniqlo.
“I used to buy Pokari Sweat and Sapporo beer, but they’re not here anymore. But you know what? I can live with that. I can use Korean products instead,” said 58-year-old Lee Choon-Duk as she browsed the shelves of a local Korean mart.
South Korea imported $54.6 billion worth of goods from Japan in 2018, and paid for $11.5 billion worth of its services.
Last week, Japan tightened curbs on exports of materials crucial for smartphone displays and chips, as Tokyo said trust with South Korea had been broken in a dispute over South Koreans forced to work for Japanese firms during World War Two. (REUTERS)
by Robie de Guzman | Posted on Wednesday, July 10th, 2019
MANILA, Philippines – More than 4,000 pieces of brand new rails for the Metro Rail Transit line 3 (MRT-3) have been delivered to the Philippines, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said on Wednesday.
In a Facebook post, the DOTr said the rails, each measuring 18 meters long, have arrived on Tuesday at the Port of Manila from Japan. The delivery was made months ahead of the expected delivery date, the agency added.
From the Port of Manila, the Japan-made rails were transported to the Tracks Laydown Yard near the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX).
The DOTr said its installation onto the MRT-3 mainline is scheduled to begin in November if the rest of tracks are delivered in October as expected.
To avoid disruption in the line’s daily train service, the agency said, rail replacement works will only take place during non-operating hours.
The DOTr expects the new rails to reduce excess vibration of trains which cause damage to its electrical and mechanical component, and later leads to glitches or train breakdown.
The procurement of new rails is part of the ongoing comprehensive rehabilitation of the MRT-3 to bring back the railway’s high-grade design condition, according to the DOTr.
by Robie de Guzman | Posted on Tuesday, July 9th, 2019
Off the coast of Japan’s Hokkaido island, a whalewatching boat ploughs through choppy waters, chasing a pod of orcas leaping and rolling through the waves in front of a deck filled with tourists squealing with joy.
The small town of Rausu, on the northernmost tip of Hokkaido, is a popular whale-watching destination attracting increasing numbers of tourists from Japan and overseas each year.
The whalewatching business is growing in Japan, with the number of whalewatchers having more than doubled between 1998 and 2015, the latest year with available national data.
“Every year, the number surpasses the previous year. Today four whalewatching boats are operating and all of them should have more tourists than last year,” said one of the boat’s captain, Masato Hasegawa.
In Rausu, almost 33,500 people packed tour boats like these in 2018 for both whale and bird watching, up 2,000 from the previous year and 9,000 from the year before that.
But whales in Japan are not just a tourism resource.
On July 1, the same day Reuters joined tourists for a whalewatching experience, boats set off on Japan’s first commercial whaling hunt in 31 years just 160 kilometres south of Rausu, in Kushiro.
They returned in the late afternoon with the carcasses of two minke whales, a species often seen by whalewatchers off the coast of Rausu.
“I don’t think my customers will ever see that,” Hasegawa said, referring to whales being hunted. “However, I am little worried about the impact it will have on minke whales in a few years time… we will need to look ahead.”
Japan in December announced it would leave the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and resume commercial whaling on July 1, aroused global condemnation and fears for the fate of whales.
“I really hope Japan will reconsider,” said Japanese tourist Kiyoko Omi. “Here (Rausu) is the only place we can see whales get together that close.”
Demand for whale has been stagnant for more than a decade and nobody in the industry expects demand or profits to grow rapidly.
Hasegawa also doubts the demand for whale meat will ever pick up – and in Rausu, restaurants and hotels purposely avoid putting it on the menu for fear it will turn tourists, particularly foreigners, away.
“We don’t have any motivation to eat whale meat,” he said. “We get a lot of kids coming here for their summer holidays. If you tell them on the boat that ‘this is the whale we ate last night’, they’d cry.” (REUTERS)
(Production: Kwiyeon Ha, Akiko Okamoto, Natasha Howitt)
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