Japan punishes Coincheck after $530 million cryptocurrency theft

UNTV News   •   January 29, 2018   •   3878

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

Japan’s new supercomputer ranks as world’s most powerful

UNTV News   •   June 23, 2020

A Japanese supercomputer has taken the top spot among the world’s most powerful systems for the first time in nine years, a U.S.-European ranking of the world’s top supercomputers said on Monday (June 22).

“Fugaku”, jointly developed by Japanese Riken research and Fujitsu Ltd in Kobe, Japan, took first place on the TOP500 list, a twice-yearly listing of the world’s most powerful computers announced by an international conference of experts.

Fugaku also took the top spots in three other categories that measure performance in computational methods for industrial use, artificial intelligence applications and big data analytics.

“I am relieved and happy at the same time for this brilliant accomplishment,” Riken president Hiroshi Matsumoto said at a news conference on Tuesday (June 23) in Kobe.

Governments use supercomputers to simulate nuclear blasts to perform virtual weapons testing. They are also used for modelling climate systems and biotechnology research. The Fugaku supercomputer will be used in such research as part of Japan’s Society 5.0 technology program. (Reuters)

(Production: Hideto Sakai, Akiko Okamoto)

Japan to ease entry for Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, NZ – Abe

UNTV News   •   June 19, 2020

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday (June 18) said his country would ease entry restrictions for people coming from Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Vietnam.

Speaking at a news conference on a day after the parliament session closed, Abe said Japan, which bans entry from more than 100 countries, will start coordinating discussion with the four countries.

Abe emphasised Japan needs a measure to restore people’s livelihoods and the economy hit by the new coronavirus pandemic. “We need a measure which controls the risk of infections with as few restrictions as possible, a measure which focuses more on protecting our jobs and livelihoods,” he said.

Abe also delivered an apology at the beginning of the news conference, over the arrests of former justice minister Katsuyuki Kawai and his wife, upper house lawmaker Anri Kawai, on suspicion of vote-buying. “I’m keenly aware of my responsibility as I once appointed him (Katsuyuki Kawai) Justice Minister,” Abe added.

Support for Abe, who had close ties to the ex-justice minister, has declined over what critics say is his clumsy handling of the coronavirus outbreak, a furore over efforts to extend top prosecutors’ retirement age, and questions about government programmes to support tourism and smaller companies. (Reuters)

(Production: Hideto Sakai)

160 stranded Filipinos in Japan return home

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 2, 2020

After weeks of being stranded in Japan due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, a total of 160 Filipinos are finally sent home on Monday (June 1).

The 160 Filipino tourists, workers, and students departed from Narita International Airport via a chartered flight mounted by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), through the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo.

On the department’s Facebook post, Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs, Atty. Sarah Lou Y. Arriola, said that “the repatriation of distressed Filipinos abroad is firm commitment of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte which is dutifully being implemented by the Department of Foreign Affairs.”

Philippine Ambassador to Japan, Jose C. Laurel V assured the repatriates that the Philippine government will continue to provide assistance to Filipinos abroad.

According to the DFA, the said repatriated Filipinos will undergo COVID testing and hotel quarantine to wait out the results of their test. –AAC

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