The cryptocurrency market in Japan has seem many ups and downs since the rise of Bitcoin and its various Altcoin offshoots over the last decade.

There was a time when Japan was regarded as an up-and-coming leader in cryptocurrency legislation. In 2017, Japan declared Bitcoin legal tender. Japanese banks began to openly consider the use of blockchain technology for their own services. Shops and restaurants across the country began accepting crypto, while Bitcoin ATMs and exchange platforms appeared one after the other.

But over time, the situation began to change. In 2018, the Financial Services Agency began to pressure exchanges to drop support for privacy coins like Monero and ZCash. This escalated into a full ban in July of that year, which coincidentally aligned with the launching of PayPay, a centralized and corporate controlled cashless payment system. Bitcoin ATMs began to slowly disappear around the same time, and businesses accepting crypto began to wane as well. In 2019, the National Police Agency spent nearly 3 billion yen on internet surveillance tools, including software to monitor popular cryptocurrency blockchains and their transactions.

What started as a decentralized technology enabling peer-to-peer finance between individuals has instead become a sterile corporatized market, surveilled and restricted by the very institutions it was made to circumvent. Japanese users who wish to purchase privacy coins could still register with overseas exchanges. But considering the willingness of Japanese ISPs to cooperate with government requests for Site Blocking, they could very easily restrict access to foreign exchanges in the near future. Even if they didn’t, all transactions originating from Japan would be subject to Police surveillance. And the case of Coinhive and Moro-san has shown that the Japanese Police are willing to crack down harshly on anybody who even dabbles in privacy coins.

And all of this strikes us as a terrible waste of potential. Which is why we feel it’s necessary to tip the balance of power, however slightly, back towards the individual.

On November 24th, 2020, v1.5.0 of “Bisq” was released. Bisq is a decentralized, peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchange allowing individuals to freely trade cryptocurrency without the need for permission from any centralized entity. By routing all traffic through the Tor network, it provides a layer of privacy and anonymity for traders, while an automated escrow and robust arbitration system discourages fraud.

More importantly, v1.5.0 is the first version of the Bisq client to be fully localized into Japanese. And because Bisq allows permissionless trades between individuals, it allows Japanese users to trade in privacy-respecting cryptocurrency while shielding themselves from the brunt of the Police’s surveillance powers. While Bisq alone is not enough to guarantee total privacy or anonymity, it is another useful tool in the toolbelt for the privacy-conscious Japanese citizen.

A peer-to-peer currency is meaningless if it’s bottlenecked through a centralized marketplace. We encourage all Japanese cryptocurrency traders to use Bisq, and free themselves from the arbitrary limitations of corporate exchanges.

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