カテゴリ:TOPICS >   Other Laws

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.

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.

If a debtor does not pay one million yen although he or she is obliged to pay it, the creditor will sue the debtor and get the decision from the judge that orders debtor to pay one million yen to the creditor.

When the debtor does not pay it voluntarily in spite of receiving the order, based on the decision, the creditor can appeal a compulsory execution to the court.

That is, the creditor can have the court attach the debtor’s properties, convert them into money, and use it for the payment of the creditor’s account receivable.

By the way, it is rare that the debtors who cannot pay anything own a real estate.
Therefore, even if the creditor has the right to attach the debtor’s property, in most cases, the creditor can only attach the money in the debtor’s bank account.

However, in Japan, the attachment system to the bank account does not work well.

Since if the creditor tries to appeal the attachment of the money in the debtor’s bank account, it is interpreted that the creditor needs to identify the debtor’s bank account as to what bank and what branch the debtor’s bank account belongs to (but not needed the number of the debtor’s bank account.) 

In Japan, there are a lot of banks and each banks have a lot of branches.

Usually, creditors do not know about which bank or which branch debtors have their account in.

Especially, if there are no continuous deals between the creditor and the debtor, for example if the creditor is the victim of a tort case, the creditor do not know the information about debtor’s bank account.

And even when the creditor knows the debtor’s bank account information, if debtor changes his bank, the debtor can easily escape the attachment.

From above, In Japan, the effectiveness of the civil judgment is extremely weak and it has been said that civil judgment is like “a Rice cake, which drew a picture” or “completely useless less that shit”.

However, according to the article of Asahi DIGITAL dated on August 5, 2016,

Ministry of Justice will try to implement the system that makes financial institutions disclose the information about the account that was owned by the person who owed obligation to pay and was judged to pay it in the court, in order to prevent the nonpayment of the compensation or the expense of bringing up a child. (translated by Hiroshi Tobita)


This is aimed at using compulsory execution easily in the court. In this autumn, Ministry of Justice will seek an opinion about the draft of revision of Civil Execution Act to Hosei Shingikai that is an advisory body of a minister of Justice, and try to submit it to the parliament in about 2018.

According to the article, the details of the Act  are as follows: 

Under the revision draft of the Act,creditors may request the court to investigate whether the debtor has his/her account in financial institutions in which the debtor supposed to have an account such as a bank around the debtor's address.
The court inquires it to the financial institution, and if there is a debtor's account, the court will order each headquarters of the financial institutions to disclose the branch name that has accounts to be attached, the kind of the account, the balance of the account, on so on.

Creditors do not need specify the name of financial institutions where debtor has his/her account. It is enough to get some idea of them.  (translated by Hiroshi Tobita)

This is a good news in Japanese judicial circle.


Recently, the number of the cases in the court has been inclined to decrease. I think this is because not only the populations of Japan is decreasing, but also there is a common recognition that the court in Japan is not useful. 

If civil judgement is not effective, Yakuza (Japanese mafia) will be rampant to debt correcting works as old time.

I hope this revise will make civil judgement of our country more effective and useful.

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