Metaplanet ups Bitcoin holdings amid Japanese economic woes

Japanese investment firm Metaplanet has disclosed an additional purchase of bitcoin (BTC) worth 250 million yen ($1.6 million), bringing its total holdings to 141 BTC, valued at $9.4 million.

The announcement on Tuesday caused Metaplanet’s stock to rise by 9.9%.

This recent purchase marks the firm’s third acquisition since April 2024. Last month, Metaplanet stated it adopted bitcoin as a reserve asset to mitigate risks associated with Japan’s massive debt burden and the resulting yen volatility. Japan’s net debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio was the highest among G7 countries in 2023, at around 159%.

Metaplanet’s strategy mirrors that of MicroStrategy, a Virginia-based software developer, which has accumulated 214,400 BTC worth $14.3 billion since it began purchasing the asset in 2020, making it the largest corporate holder of bitcoin.

In a press release, Metaplanet highlighted Japan’s economic challenges, including high government debt levels and prolonged negative real interest rates, which have weakened the yen. The company described bitcoin as a “non-sovereign store of value” that has appreciated against fiat currencies.

“Bitcoin’s monetary policy is rigidly set in stone through 2140, setting it apart from both monetary metals and competing crypto projects operated at the whims of centralized developer teams,” Metaplanet stated, highlighting that there will only ever be 21 million bitcoins.

Earlier in February, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) approved a bill that paves the way for limited partnership (LP) firms in Japan to invest in and hold crypto assets.

The legislative change will increase domestic investments in medium-sized companies and startups engaged in the cryptocurrency space. Prior to these amendments, Japanese venture capital firms faced restrictions against investing in crypto assets, driving Web3 startups to seek financial backing from foreign investors.

Furthermore, Japan is taking careful steps toward the introduction of a digital yen. However, the decision to officially launch the digital yen will not be made until after a national discussion, expected no earlier than 2026.

The trial also included scenarios where a single user possessed multiple accounts with multiple intermediaries. Additionally, user convenience in initiating and scheduling payments was evaluated during this phase of the experiment to assess the CBDC’s ability to facilitate smooth payment transactions.

Additionally, three Japanese banks are set to develop a payment system that integrates their stablecoins on a public blockchain while satisfying legal requirements.

Japan’s financial regulator was also seeking feedback on allowing domestic distributors to handle stablecoins issued outside the country on the condition that they maintain sufficient collateral.

These steps are part of Japan’s efforts to promote the growth of its blockchain and cryptocurrency sectors in line with the government’s push for “new capitalism,” as stated by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.