It seems as if the world of cryptocurrency has essentially moved on without China, after they decided to excuse themselves from the race with a ban on ICOs and exchanges. This has led to other countries in Asia taking up the mantle, such as Korea and Japan.

Japan has long been one of the champion states of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, labeling the biggest one, Bitcoin, legal tender earlier in the year. However, despite this friendly approach, those within Japan say an ICO ban could still be coming.

Life after China

The Asian cryptomarket has long been the dominate one, from mining to trade volume, but since China decided to set a hardline precedent, interest in the county has died down.

However, the interest in cryptocurrency itself has not died, in fact, it reached new highs last week. In the Asian market, there has been an appreciation of interest as other countries near to China have picked up the additional flow of cryptocurrency.

South Korea swiftly followed China’s lead in planning to ban initial coin offerings - to the heavy opposition of local entrepreneurs - while Taiwan has warmed up to them instead.

Japan, as one of the early investors with its recognition of Bitcoin, has picked up a huge stake in the market, now trading about 63 percent of the world’s Bitcoin.

Not quite the liberal safe haven

Many in Asia see Japan as the liberal safe haven for cryptocurrency, but Koji Higashi, cofounder of digital token wallet IndieSquare and an outspoken figure in Japan’s cryptocurrency scene, would not be so daring.

Japan is still a risk-averse country, and one that is also strongly conservative in nature. Higashi says he still sees an ICO crackdown as a “definite possibility”. He said:

“Japan’s not really ICO-friendly. Regulators are just more tentative. They’re just trying to figure out if it’s going to be good or bad. It doesn’t mean they won’t start regulating more heavily in the future when problems start emerging.”

However, Higashi is also not dooming ICOs in Japan before they have stood a fair trial. He is optimistic that if ICOs come out looking good through the trials they face, then Japan will be leading the way.

“If ICOs turn out to be a really revolutionary concept … then Japan will have a head start and attract a lot of ICO projects.”

That’s already beginning to happen as companies worldwide are moving their projects to Switzerland and Japan, which would help those countries earn tax revenue.