Takuya Hirai, a politician who is known for being pro-blockchain, has been named Minister of Science, Technology and IT in Japan. It’s the latest in a series of changes that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe has made to his cabinet.
Hirai, who is a member of the Liberal Democrat Party (LDP), was an architect of last year’s law that legalizes cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan. Now he will assume the role as head of the ministry where chief among his responsibilities will be overseeing the government’s official policy on the fintech industry.
Hirai has been a leading figure in the development and support of the blockchain in Japan and has served both as president of the Fintech Federation of Promotion Parliamentarians as well as chair of the Special Committee on IT Strategy of the LDP. In addition, Hirai also participated in the drafting of Japan’s basic cybersecurity law, which was enacted in 2015.
Meanwhile, local Japanese media reports have been spotlighting Hirai’s positive remarks about the initial coin offers (ICO) at the Japan Blockchain Association (JBA) meeting in August. He also advised the ICO Business Study Group at the Rule Formation Strategy Institute at Tama University.
Hirai’s advisory role at Tama University led the study group to publish a comprehensive list of guidelines for the regulation and full legalization of ICOs in the country, a report that will be officially considered by Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) and could eventually be become law. The guidelines include rules surrounding anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) protocols for cryptocurrency exchanges.
Japan has been positioning itself as a country interested in nurturing blockchain innovation. The appointment of Hirai is a major victory for the cryptocurrency industry as a whole.