Japan not consider bitcoin as a currency, banking operations -sources

TOKYO, March 5 Tue Mar 4, 2014 7:12pm EST

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TOKYO, March 5 (Reuters) - Japan's government plans to clarify how bitcoin transactions should be handled under existing laws, sources familiar with the situation said on Wednesday, following the collapse of Tokyo-based Mt. Gox, once the world's biggest exchange of the virtual currency.

A decision will be made on the matter at a Friday cabinet meeting, the sources said, although the Japanese government will not consider the bitcoin as a currency, or the subject of principal banking operations or securities transactions.

Japan's government is still trying to explain the collapse of Mt. Gox and figure out how the company could lose nearly half a billion dollars in bitcoins, Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Tuesday.

Mt. Gox filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan on Friday.

(Reporting by Noriyuki Hirata; Writing by Dominic Lau; Editing by Edmund Klamann)

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