Hopes are high in Japan that the government will put Web3 development at the front and center of its economic plans – after its Prime Minister appointed a new minister in charge of digital affairs.
On Twitter, the politician Taro Kono announced that he had been appointed to the post by the Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, in the latter’s latest ministerial reshuffle.
The appointment appears to be a clear sign of intent from Kishida: Kono is a former tech industry chief, has a particularly high social media presence, and as a former Georgetown University alumnus, is fluent in English. He has previously headed the foreign ministry and is also the former Minister of State for Administrative Reform.
During his term as Foreign Minister, Taro Kono held an official meeting with the Ethereum (ETH) co-founder Vitalik Buterin and the Ethereum Foundation’s Executive Director Aya Miyaguchi.
Last year, Kono narrowly lost the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leadership election race to Kishida. Had he won, he would have taken on the role of PM.
More recently, he took to Twitter to ask his 2.4 million followers to create a digital avatar that he could use in metaverse spaces.
Kono will head the government-run Digital Agency, which was created in 2009 in an attempt to digitize the workings of the government, bridge the tech divide between rural and urban areas, and promote IT-based growth.
But in recent months, Kishida and the ruling LDP have spoken in bullish terms about Web3-related growth. Appointing a minister with the clout of Kono to effectively spearhead this effort appears to demonstrate just how seriously Tokyo is now taking its efforts in this field.
Opposition leaders and industry chiefs have warned that top Japanese blockchain and crypto talents are moving overseas due to prohibitive tax rates, prompting talk of crypto tax reform.
And in a visit to the UK in May this year, Kishida told British investors that his government was targeting Web3-related growth, making note of both metaverse and non-fungible token (NFT)-related developments in his speech.
CoinPost reported that last month, the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry established the new Web3 Promotional Office. The latter was described as “a cross-ministerial organization.”