Even at the Gates of Hell, it just depends on how much Bitcoin you have. (地獄の沙汰もビットコイン次第）This modern take on an old Japanese saying still holds true. The cryptocurrency was supposed to do for money what the internet did for information, but it didn’t work out that way. Every coin has two sides and Bitcoin is no different. The light side was that it was supposed to liberate currency from banks and make financial transactions less costly and more efficient. The dark side is that the anonymity and huge surge in the value attracts international criminals, con artists, and even corrupt cops. Join us for lively talk on Bitcoin for beginners—and for those interested in true crime.
Pay the Devil in Bitcoin: The Creation of a Cryptocurrency and How Half a Billion Dollars of It Vanished From Japan based on two years of research and reporting for The Daily Beast, is a primer on this new form of virtual money and the real-world chaos it unleashed, particularly in the ancestral homeland of its mysterious creator, Satoshi Nakamoto. Japan was at one time the center of the bitcoin universe — home of Mt. Gox, the world’s largest bitcoin exchange, credited both with fostering the rapid rise of the currency, and, later, with bringing its value crashing down. In 2014, Mt. Gox collapsed with nearly half a billion dollars’ worth of bitcoin gone missing — perhaps the greatest bitcoin heist in history. If it was a heist. We will be talking about the collapse of Mt. Gox, Japanese cyber investigations, and briefly why virtual currency is becoming very attractive to Japan’s traditional underworld, the Yakuza.
Journalist and writer
Jake Adelstein came to Japan in 1988 and is a graduate of Sophia University. He has been working in Japan as a reporter since 1993, first for a major Japanese newspaper, writing in Japanese, covering everything from crime, court cases, to high school baseball, but much of it devoted to covering Japan’s mafia, the yakuza. He is author of a true-crime memoir Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter On the Police Beat in Japan and co-author of the forthcoming Pay The Devil In Bitcoin. He’s also a low-ranking Zen Buddhist priest, far, far, far from enlightenment (satori). He currently covers Japan’s popular culture (products, fads, new businesses), the shady subculture, crime, politics, social issues and gadgets for The Daily Beast, Forbes, and other publications.