Japan is leading the way in emerging technology, particularly in Web3. This was the message from Masaaki Taira, a lawmaker in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and head of its Web 3.0 project team, during his presentation at the Thursday NexTech Week trade show in Tokyo. Taira is an outspoken advocate for cryptocurrency and used his presentation to highlight Japan’s capabilities in Web3, the new internet built around decentralized blockchain technologies, metaverse, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Japan’s government and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida have become enthusiastic supporters of emerging technology, and Web3 in particular, as pillars of the country’s economic future. This starkly contrasts to the US, where regulatory turmoil and doubts about the country’s Web3 future are increasing due to lawsuits against cryptocurrency exchanges. In April, a Japan government-affiliated white paper was released outlining the country’s path to widespread adoption of Web3, including crypto. The document has become a “major talking point” in Japan and overseas, according to Taira.
Taira noted that executives from global technology companies, including Microsoft, Amazon, Meta, and Apple, have visited Japan to discuss proposals after reading the white paper. Until the government’s pivot toward crypto and blockchain, there was a sense that the Japanese digital asset space was stagnating due to events such as the collapse of the Tokyo-based crypto exchange Mt Gox in 2014 and the Coincheck hack in 2018. However, Taira said that Japan’s cryptocurrency exchanges are now the safest in the world, and the country’s experimentation with stablecoins is bearing fruit.
Japan’s historical soft power strengths in anime, manga, and gaming lend themselves well to the Web3 space, Taira said, particularly in the sphere of NFTs and metaverse development. He noted that there is still much potential value to be explored in these areas. Regarding Artificial Intelligence, Taira said that capital investment is needed to bolster experimentation and encourage the nation’s young developers to shop in the country rather than heading overseas. He acknowledged that mistakes had been made when nurturing Japan’s talented young entrepreneurs and innovators, leading many to seek more favorable conditions in places like Dubai and Singapore.
Taira hopes to create a system allowing young researchers and start-ups to access and utilize increased resources under improved conditions. He said this would include ironing out a “number of tax issues” that remain a final barrier to increased development. The final day of NexTech Week is on Friday, with presentations from blockchain platform Financie Inc. and J1 League soccer team Avispa Fukuoka. The duo operates the Avispa Fukuoka Sports Innovation DAO, designed to introduce global fans to the soccer team of a city that has emerged as a technology startup hub in Japan. These presentations should help audiences better understand whether Taira’s efforts to date are bearing fruit.