Japan to step up monitoring of virtual assets

Japan's finance ministry plans to step up its monitoring of virtual assets, including Bitcoin, to prevent them from being misused for purposes such as terrorist financing.

The ministry is considering making it possible to freeze virtual assets held by organizations that are subject to UN sanctions, as is done with bank deposits.

Other measures include requiring cryptocurrency exchanges to confirm that their customers' transfer recipients are not on sanction lists.

The ministry is also considering checking measures taken by exchanges, and issuing warnings and orders if deficiencies are found.

The move comes after a UN Security Council panel accused North Korea of stealing virtual assets worth more than 300 million dollars through cyberattacks to finance its nuclear and missile programs.

The Financial Action Task Force, a global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog, is asking Japan to tighten regulations on transactions involving virtual assets.

The finance ministry plans to seek revisions of related laws.