Bitcoin purchasing and racial profiling by Quoinex and BITPoint Japan: Hurdles for NJ customers only


Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. Debito Arudou (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
“LIKE” US on Facebook at
If you like what you read and discuss on, please consider helping us stop hackers and defray maintenance costs with a little donation via my webhoster:
Donate towards my web hosting bill!
All donations go towards website costs only. Thanks for your support!

Hi Blog. We’ve talked before about differing standards for NJ in regards to equal treatment as consumers, customers, residents and taxpayers, equal pricing for services, and access to credit. Now here’s another report about barriers for NJ only to purchase Bitcoin, the international cryptocurrency, in Japan.

I didn’t know much about Bitcoin until recently (here’s a good primer from NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross), but now it’s become a legitimate currency, accepted by the likes of Microsoft for payment, so denial of access to it affects Japan’s NJ residents’ abilities to pay a bill easily, quickly, and without extortionate bank fees. (Especially ironic is that the pseudonym for Bitcoin’s creator is “Satoshi Nakamoto”, but never mind.)

I’ll let Reader Shiki take the keyboard from here with his report.  Dr. Debito Arudou


From: Shiki
Subject: Discrimination of good and services based on nationality
Date: December 2, 2017

Hello Dr. Debito,

Recently, because of the Bitcoin fever, I’ve been looking at bitcoin and other crypto exchanges in Japan, and signing up for almost every single one of them.

Most of them have presented no problem, they follow the law in which they have the obligation to ask for an official ID,  just like PayPal does in Japan, for which I have been sending the front of my Personal Number Card (My Number Card), and then they send you a post card to your address to confirm you actually live there.

That’s what these exchanges and basically any virtual money company in Japan is required to do by law.

That’s except for 2 exchanges, Quoinex and BITPoint.

The law states that any valid official ID can be used, but these 2 exchanges only accept a Resident Card for foreigners, and Quoinex go so far as to ask for a passport to those individuals who are Japanese but are “suspected” of being foreigners from their names, etc. (basically racial profiling).

The following is the conversation I had with the support staff from Quoinex who, after more than a week after I sent all my info in, told me “My documents didn’t match”.

Nov 15, 3:08 PM JST





After this, I went to their public telegram group and posted about this, for which I received the following answer:

QUOINE は犯罪収益移転防止法に則り口座開設審査を行っておりますが、仰るとおり本法律には国籍を聞くことまでは求められておりません。

What Quoinex basically says is that they are asking for “proof” of nationality as part of their KYC (Know Your Customer) policy, which somehow does not apply to people who are not suspected of being foreigners.

The other exchange, BITPoint, basically rejected my registration, and told me to send them both sides of the Resident Card, as the following main shows:


Shiki: Let me be very clear, most exchanges do not ask for this. I registered with the major Japanese exchanges like bitFlyer and Coincheck among other minor exchanges. With all of them I used my Personal Number Card, and no one told me I had to do something different because of my face.

But like these 2 exchanges, more and more companies who like racial profiling are starting to ask for the Residence Card for extra-legal purposes, basically discriminating in the way people are able to open accounts or register to services based on their nationality unless you comply with some extra requirements.

One of the worst examples of this is AU [as did NTT and Softbank], which is starting to reject foreigners for buying phones in multiple payments, if the expiration of their current status in Japan does not exceed the payment timeframe for their phones, which is usually 2 years. This basically means that if your current stay permit is of 1 year, or your stay is about to expire in less than 2 years, you won’t be able to get a phone at the same price than Japanese people.

Let’s remember that the maximum stay period in Japan for most visas is of 5 years, and that you cannot renew your stay until 3 months prior to the expiration date of your current permit, which I would make the case that it excludes most foreigners under a non-permanent residency status.


Just like the My Number law states very clearly that it is illegal for someone who isn’t required by law to ask for your “My Number”, or taking copies of the part of your card which shows the actual number, I think we require a law to stop people who for asking for someone’s Residence Card if they aren’t legally required to do so. In some respects I would argue that the information inside the Residence Card is in many respects just as sensitive as your “My Number”, and asking for it is an invasion of privacy at best.

I’m also wondering if there is any law, even in those international agreements like the one used for the Otaru case, that makes it illegal to have different requirements based on someone’s nationality.

Sincerely, Shiki


(Answer from Debito:  There are laws protecting against unsanctioned Gaijin Card checks.)

Do you like what you read on  Want to help keep the archive active and support’s activities?  Please consider donating a little something.  More details here. Or even click on an ad below.

15 comments on “Bitcoin purchasing and racial profiling by Quoinex and BITPoint Japan: Hurdles for NJ customers only

  • I recently went to open an account with Mitsubishi UFJ, and halfway through they asked for my gaijin card, under the pretense of “confirming my American nationality.” (Under U.S. tax law, U.S. citizens are apparently required to report foreign bank accounts to the U.S. government.) This was after I had provided my SSN (an identification number issued to all American citizens, for those unfamiliar) on the account forms.

    What was particularly suspect was that the teller initially used the phrase “在留カードとか,” without appending any other examples of what might be acceptable forms of I.D. We went back and forth a few times, but I very clearly told her I wanted her to provide proof that I had a legal obligation to comply (I knew I didn’t), otherwise I was viewing her request as no more than a 勝手な request from the company. She eventually relented, claiming that “on the basis of trust” they would accept my application without the gaijin card check.

    It only leaves me wondering two things: how many people had until that point thoughtlessly complied with the illegal request, and what the hell the bank does with illegally collected data from gaijin cards.

    I wish I could say this is a uniquely Japan problem, but even a cursory search on the Internet reveals that most Americans will gladly cooperate with human rights violations, and even go so far as to chastise others who dare stand up for their rights. Good example here, and see the comments for examples of those who have embraced their oppressors. Fair warning, this video may piss you off.

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      Great post HJ!
      The thing that really bites about all this illegal document copying being done left right and center is how much of an identity theft liability it is.
      Typical ‘safety country’ foolishness.
      It’s illegal for these people to copy your gaijin card.
      I’m pretty sure it’s illegal for them to copy my passport.
      And I’m damn sure know that my credit card insurance would be invalidated if anyone used this info to commit a fraud, and the credit card company found out I’d voluntarily handed over the info for copying.
      It’s another case of Japanese ethnonationalism thumbing its nose at international norms thinking its being strong, when in reality it just turns people and business away from Japan.

    • Loverilakkuma says:

      Thanks for your posting. I was wondering how ID thing would work for NJ in case of opening a bank account in Japan. I know it is required to produce a SSN if you have one (for US tax law), but a tricky thing is that it may not be enough (since I know a non-American can obtain a SSN for work/tax purposes). So there’s still a chance that you may be required to produce any valid photo ID. I understand that in some circumstance like opening a bank account or making transactions involving certain amount of money, you may have no choice but to do so. But that doesn’t have to be a passport or zairyucard, unless you are going to open a bank account as a new resident in Japan. Once you open a bank account, there’s absolutely no reason to show any photo ID. Your account book or a bank card should be your ID for any business transaction. No exception should be allowed based on who or how a customer looks like. That is my understanding.

      What really bothers me, as you do, I think, is that some of these Japanese establishments seem to take it for granted that they can demand access to sensitive information–which is exclusive to legal and intelligent authorities– as if it were their privilege. Asking a zairyu card for verification of US citizenship? WTF!? Hope such ignorance would not lead financial institutions to racial profiling as a normalized practice in the name of security.

      — It will and it has.

  • I once tried to exchange an Australian 50 dollar note (a birthday present from my Mum) for yen at a Mizuho bank and the teller asked for my passport. Being a resident I didn’t have my passport with me. She became remonstrative and scowled at me like I was some kind of criminal and refused to exchange it. I came back an hour later with a Japanese co-worker and he exchanged it for yen (while I was standing beside him) without any questions asked or ID shown.

  • This anecdote relates to Korean racism at the bank, but I hope it will be permitted on this site. Japanese and Korean racism are almost identical in many ways; their effects end up being similar, and indeed Korea may have learned some of its racism from Japan when Japan colonized Korea in the first half of the 20th century.

    Back when I was living in Korea (as a student at Yonsei University), I visited my hometown, Fairfax, Virginia, over the winter holidays. At that point, I already had an account at Woori Bank in Korea.

    I wanted to open a bank account at Woori America Bank in Annandale, Virgina. I was hoping this would make the transfer of funds from America to my Korean account easier (it didn’t, but at the time, it seemed like it would).

    The bank employees treated me very suspiciously.

    First of all, it was a Korean-speaking bank, and I saw all other customers who spoke Korean getting replies in Korean. When I spoke Korean, they replied in English. I was also the only person in there with white skin. Coincidence?

    I’m used to that casual racism, so I just let that slide.

    However, when I tried to open the account, they were highly suspicious. A bank official came out and said (verbatim): “We need to know why you want to open this account, because you’re not Korean.”

    I was irate and more or less said: “Excuse me?! I want to open a bank account _in my own country_! I don’t have to be Korean. Even asking that question is discrimination.”

    She persisted unapologetically and unfortunately, I capitulated and told her I was a student at Yonsei and wanted the account for use with my Woori Bank account in Korea. I got the account, which ended up being absolutely horrible–it would frequently lock me out of the site for no known reason, requiring a call to customer service.

    Lesson learned:
    WHEN IN A SIMILAR SITUATION, CARRY A RECORDING DEVICE, GET PROOF, AND DON’T FEEL ANY GUILT ABOUT STARTING A LAWSUIT. In Asia, the racist almost always wins, and whether this is “as it should be” is a hotly debated question on Japan Times comment section, etc. where apologists and people who understand the UN ICERD duke it out. However, Asians who move to the US and other non-ethnostates with LAWS against racism have absolutely no right to impose their home countries’ racist policies against non-Asians. Don’t let them turn relatively racially tolerant countries into 21st century versions of Appartheid South Africa, with a privileged minority that is highly exclusive and discriminates against the majority of the population.

    • Great “lesson learned” Charles.
      Indeed, allowing bigots to export their very own brand of racism is the very last thing we need.

  • I am so glad I found this website and its articles.. You know being non-native english speaker and having very few friends in Japan, I kept asking myself if it was me.. if it was my fault, despite how good I tried to spoke Japanese, how correctly I behaved and how deeply I was accustomed to the social norms I always felt that awkward feeling. Despite being Italian I lived abroad great part of my life, here and there in Europe. There, I have never been really discriminated – this obviously doesn’t mean I didn’t experience racism. I never realized before coming to Japan, how racism could make you angry and how it works to build the state of subjugation. Even worse is the fact that in this country there is not ongoing discourse about racial discrimination and cultural diversification. The principles of “awase” are clear to me and I would never ask Japan to change for me, but Japan not only asked me to change in the start, when I was able enough to produce and to contribute to society it also asked me to disappear, to not exist. Reading all this material and also all this people experiences made me fell less alone. I am really thankful.

  • The only thing that I’ve noticed about BTX recently is that because it’s supposedly invented by a guy with a Japanese sounding name, now that the value is skyrocketing, many Japanese are acting nationalistic about it and experiencing a sense of national pride; ‘we Japanese’ did this, bitcoin is ‘ours’.

    • theyre foolish to claim so. Its a made up name. I knew of this tall blonde German guy who made a record, wore a black wig and womens clothes, tok a photo of himself half concealed in foliage, and went under the stage name of “Sato Yumiko”

      In Japan it was filed under “Japanese Techno.” Purely because of the name. Punked!

      What I find so weirdly nationalistic is how only in Japan do they feel the need to have “Japanese” as a genre.

      Oh, wait, it must be becuase its “unique”. The western media is partly to blame for enabling this:
      “Zen as any kind of inspiration (he views this as a projection of Western commentators based on their expectations of him as a Japanese musician”

      “a local journalist came up to us. He seemed pretty drunk and we wanted to keep distance from him but the guy insisted “Let me speak one more word”. At first with a tweaking voice and then loudly he claims “Zen Noise”
      So they then made an album called “Zen”.

      oh, the Postmodern Irony.

  • While I don’t know his ethnicity, there is no way that “Satoshi” (the inventor) was raised in Japan. Read his emails where he discusses the invention before it was released (they are available online) – it is perfect native English indicating a British or Commonwealth origin, with slang, like “crikey”.

  • Satoshi Nakamoto is no one person,”Satoshi Nakamoto is the name used by the unknown person or people who designed bitcoin and created its original reference implementation.[1] ”

    “Claims” to be Japanese. Based on the name.Oh the typical casual racism. (If you have a Japanese sounding name you can claim J nationality, like e.g. Fujimori, Alberto)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>