カテゴリ: Hiroshi Tobita

ビットコイン スタートBook
江嵜 宗利
大蔵財務協会
2019-04-10

I learned from the “Bitcoin Book for Beginners” by my colleague, Mr. Esaki that with regard to bitcoin, the tax Q&As and comments have already been announced by the National Tax Agency. Although consumption tax does not apply, when individuals trade, as a rule, it becomes miscellaneous income, except when it is recognized as business income, and when a corporation transacts, corporation tax (as income of the corporation) will be imposed.
What I thought was a bit unreasonable is that even if you buy something with bitcoin, taxation would apply. For example, if you purchased 1 BTC for 400,000 yen on April 1 and paid 600,000 yen for home appliances at Yamada Electrics on April 10, and then paid 1 BTC because the rate for 1 BTC at that time was 600,000 yen, you would incur a miscellaneous income of 200,000 yen. However, if you had to record the rate every time you bought an item and then compare it to the rate of bitcoin purchase costs, you would not be able to benefit from money markets, rendering the benefits of cryptocurrency pointless. Additionally, it would be incredibly difficult to make frequent purchases of some items in shops. Even though Japan worked on the virtual currency law ahead of other developed nations, the use of the virtual currency will not spread, and this will be the result of such nonsense.

However, when I asked a tax accountant about this issue, it seems that such handling is the same with foreign currency. For example, if you purchased $400 for ¥400,000 on April 1, then the yen depreciated rapidly, and you bought home appliances for ¥600,000 on April 10 at $400 US, you would still incur a miscellaneous income of 200,000 yen. Thus, the tax accountant says that even if you buy things in dollars, if you convert it to Japanese yen to determine the number of dollars, the income has to be taken into account, so from the tax law point of view, it is not theoretically wrong.

Therefore, in order to change such tax laws, it is necessary for bitcoins to be as prevalent as Japanese yen, so that it would not be necessary to convert them into yen to buy things. I dream of this happening someday.


Do you know the volume of land area in Japan, for which the owners are unknown?

According to a survey by the Unknown Owners Land Problem Research Institute, which is organized by the Japan Land Planning Association and so on, it is estimated that there were approximately 4.1 million hectares in 2016.

You may not be able to imagine how large 4.1 million hectares is. In fact, it is larger than Kyushu Island (3.6 million hectares), which is the third-largest island of Japan and the most southwesterly of the four main islands.

Then, it seems that one of the main causes of unknown land ownership is the replacement by inheritance, so in the future, there will be a large inheritance period, in which the baby boomers will die in large numbers, and this trend will lead to about 7.2 million hectares in 2020. As the area of Hokkaido is 8.3million hectares, this means that the owners of a land area equivalent to the area of Hokkaido will not be known.

There will be a problem if this occurs. 
Why does land with unknown ownership occur? 
It is because the ownership of land also involves obligations, such as property tax payment and land management. In other words, the more land with unknown owners, the less tax revenue there will be, and then even more land will lack proper management and will degrade.

Of course, the government has addressed this problem. It has already enacted the Special Measures Act for Facilitating the Use of Lands with Unknown Owners at the regular parliament last year (2018). This makes it possible for companies and municipalities to use existing land with unknown ownership for public purposes, such as parks and parking lots.

However, since this is insufficient, in the current parliament, the following bill is being discussed. That is, the registrar investigates land for which the owner's name and address are not properly registered and correctly rewrites the owner on the register. If they still do not know the owner, the court will choose a manager by petition of the municipality or company that wants to use the land, and the manager will be able to sell the land.

When it comes to the fact that there are lands with unknown owners that amount to more than the area of Kyushu in the whole country, there may be lands that many people want, so it is possible that such a law can lead to activity for the real estate business.

In addition, as mentioned above, the occurrence of unknown land ownership is one of the reasons that the registration of heirs is not made at the time of inheritance, so the government is currently making progress in discussions towards the obligatory registration of inheritance. In addition, because the existence of the obligation (property asset tax payment and land management duty) associated with land ownership is also a reason for the occurrence of unknown land ownership, discussions as to whether the abandonment of land ownership rights is permitted are also underway. Abandoned land will be once assigned to the recipient organization and will create a mechanism for matching unused land with people who want to use it. Regarding the obligatory registration of succession and the abandonment of land ownership, there is an aim to propose a bill to the extraordinary parliament in 2020.

One of my specialties is real estate law. 
This problem (unknown ownership of land) is very interesting to me and I will continue to monitor this situation from now on.

Do you know the rules of a conversion from a fixed-period worker to a non-fixed-period worker on labor contracts?

This is a newly stipulated rule in Article 18 of the 2012 revision of the Labor Contract Act.To briefly explain, this rule means that if a fixed-period labor contract is repeatedly renewed with the same employer for more than five years, the worker (for example, contract employee, part-timer worker, temporary employee etc.) has the right to a non-fixed labor contract. For example, if the contract period is one year, after the 5th renewal, the right to apply for the conversion applies. If he or she makes an application for a non-fixed labor contract, his or her employer cannot refuse the application. In other words, a non-fixed-term labor contract will be established.

Why was such a strange and complicated rule made?

In Japan, until about 30 years ago, with the background of high economic growth, the idea of viewing a company as a family was strong. So most people worked in the same company for their whole life. A seniority-based personnel system was mainstream. For that reason, most labor contracts had no fixed-period. The Japanese people and the Japanese court also eventually endorsed this system by almost never accepting the dismissal of non-fixed-period workers.

However, after that, the growth of the Japanese economy slowed down and Japanese companies no longer had the financial strength to hire many non-fixed-period workers who could not be dismissed in principle. For that reason, the number of fixed-period workers has gradually increased. Currently, 37.5% of all workers are fixed-period workers.

The problem is that for fixed-period workers, there is always the possibility of losing their jobs when their contract expires and is not renewed. Furthermore, in general, the salary of fixed-period workers is lower than non-fixed-period workers in spite of doing the same work. Fixed-period workers are sometimes subject to discrimination in the workplace by non-fixed-period workers (regular employees) calling them “irregular employees”.

Therefore, in order to upgrade fixed-period workers to non-fixed-period workers, such rules were revised 2012.


There was some opposition to this revised rule, as follows. Since the difficulty of firing non-fixed-period workers is one of the reasons for the increase of fixed-period workers, making such a rule without addressing this difficulty would make the rule ineffectual. For example, there is the risk that companies will terminate labor contracts before reaching five years ('stopping employment').


However, due to the effects of an aging society in Japan now-a-days, the number of workers has decreased. Companies are now suffering from a shortage of workers. So some companies have switched from offering fixed-period labor contracts to non-fixed ones in order to attract new employees. So the aforementioned 'stopping employment' has not became a social problem at this time.

The period of five years in this conversion rule will be calculated from April 1, 2013. So there are fixed-period workers who can apply for the conversion from as soon as April 1, 2018, next year. With this rule, companies that hire fixed-period workers should pay attention to the following points:


(1) Confirm whether or not there will be a fixed-period worker who acquires the conversion right after April 1, 2018.


(2) Before a fixed-period worker exercises the indefinite conversion right, consider what will be the contractual relationship between the company and this worker.


According to Article 18 of the Labor Contract Act, in principle, if a fixed-period worker exercises the conversion right, the terms of the previous labor contract should be carried over to the new contract, the only change being that the fixed-period becomes a non-fixed-period. In other words, if the worker goes to the office 3 days a week, this will not change. The salary also remains the same. However, if employer make a new employment rule that is applied to those who exercised the conversion right in advance, the terms of that new rule exceptionally become the conditions between employer and them. Therefore, if an employer wants different terms to be applied to them regarding working days, working time, overtime and relocation or so on, he or she needs to make a new employment rule.


Regarding this conversion rule, preparation is important. We recommend you prepare as soon as possible for those who have not yet applied for the conversion.

Our office is located in Ginza, which is known for being the most luxurious area of Japan. There are many popular department stores and brand outlets here. However, if you venture into the backstreets of Ginza, you will find some restaurants (mostly Chinese restaurants) that allow their guest to smoke, even during lunch time.

Also, not only in Ginza, but all over Japan, most Izakayas (Japanese-style bars) do not prohibit smoking. Actually, we often go to an Izakaya at night with our clients, colleagues or friends. As some Izakayas serve a lot of cheap food, some guests come there with their families (including their children) to have casual dinners. But most of the Izakayas allow guests to smoke. So when we go to an Izakaya, we need to be aware that we will be exposed to cigarette smoke.

Why is this terrible situation occurring in Japan?

This is because in Japan, there is no strict legal restriction regarding smoking in restaurants and bars.

It is true that Article 25 of the Health Promotion Law stipulates as follows.

Those who manage facilities such as schools, gymnasiums, hospitals, theaters, exhibition halls, meeting places, exhibition halls, department stores, offices, government agencies, eating and drinking places, and other facilities that are used by many people, must endeavor to take the necessary measures to prevent passive smoking (which means to be forced to smoke others' tobacco smoke in indoor or similar environments).

However, this article stipulates only an "obligation to endeavor to take the necessary measures" (not an "obligation to take the necessary measures"). Therefore, there is no penalty for those who do not take any measures to prevent passive smoking.

Now, the Japanese government is trying to ban smoking in facilities that a large number of people use in principle by revising this law, but even now since there are many people who want to smoke in restaurants and bars (especially men in their 40s and 50s; almost 40% of them are smokers). Since dissenting opinions are also strong, the ban cannot be easily established.

Yet, recent good news has emerged. On September 8, Governor Yuriko Koike of Tokyo announced that Tokyo is trying to establish a regulation that bans smoking in public facilities, including restaurants and bars in principle. This excepts only the restaurants and bars that meet all of following items:

(1) The area is less than 30 square meters.

(2) They do not use any employees, or all employees agree to work in smoky conditions.

(3) Children do not enter there.

(4) Posting that they allow smoking.

If this Tokyo Metropolitan Ordinance is enacted, I will no longer have to go to an Izakaya or restaurant where I will have cigarette smoke blown into my face. I hope that this ordinance is established at once.

In Japan, is it legal or illegal to use AirBNB to let rooms out to travelers?

In fact it is illegal.

In Japan, there is a law called the Hotel Business Law. It defines Hotel Business as the business of repeatedly providing a place to sleep to guests and receiving an accommodation fee in return. If you offer Hotel Business, you need to get permission from the governor of your prefecture first. If you offer Hotel Business without having permission, you will be penalized with imprisonment with labour for up to 6 months or a fine of up to 30,000 yen.

However, as you know, the number of foreign tourists coming to Japan is continuing to increase. The Tokyo Olympic Games will be held in 2020, and a serious hotel shortage is expected. Furthermore, although AirBNB has recently become popular in Japan, and many people use it, most of them do not seem to have the correct permission to offer Hotel Business.

Therefore, the Japanese Government is implementing the following three deregulations.

1. Deregulation of Hotel Business law

According to the Hotel Business Law, a normal house is classified as a “Simple Lodge”, but to get permission to use the Simple Lodge, it needs to have a certain minimum floor area and an entrance hall. Because of this restriction, in the past it was difficult to obtain the permission, so now these restrictions have been relaxed.

2. Enforcement of the National Strategy Special Area Act

Within National Strategy Special Areas, if the National Strategy Special Conference permits the use of private houses for Hotel Business, then in those areas it is possible to offer Hotel business without permission. The only requirement is to receive certification from prefectural governors. However, so far, there are only three such special areas. Those areas are Ohta Ward in Tokyo, Osaka City in Osaka prefecture and Kita-Kyushu in Fukuoka prefecture. Because this law previously demanded that travelers had to stay for at least 7 days, it was not used much. Currently, the minimum number of days has been reduced from seven to three, but there are few foreign travelers who stay in one place for three days, so this law is still not used much.

3. Establishment of Housing Staying Business Act

This year, a new law was introduced in February, although it has not yet been enforced. By notifying the prefectural governor, we will be able to use our private houses to offer Hotel Business. However, there is a maximum limit of 180 days over the period of a year that we can use our houses to offer Hotel Business.

Anyway, I hope that the new law will be actively used and that travelers will be able to legally stay in a normal house, even in Japan.

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