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Japanese Government Mulls Promoting NFTs in Sport

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 1 min read
A smartphone user holds a device with an image of a sports player on it. Text reading “NFT Extra Rare Fan Card” is displayed below the image, along with a “Buy” button.
Source: Maurice Norbert/Adobe

The Japanese government may push to adopt non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in the sports industry.

Nikkei reported that Tokyo could move after the ruling Liberal Democratic Party Web3 “Digital Society Promotion” team issues a white paper on the matter.

The white paper is yet to be published, but sources appear to have discussed the matter in detail with the media outlet.

The white paper, Nikkei explained, will seek to clarify the regulatory picture for NFT-issuing firms and their potential sporting partners.

How Could Japan Use NFTs in Sport – And What Are The Problems?

The Web3 team has noted that “fantasy sports” are “gaining popularity overseas” and wants to “encourage” domestic “companies” to “enter” the sector.

Sports like baseball and football (soccer) have enormous followings in Japan.

As such, any possible Japanese NFT-powered fantasy league would doubtless enjoy great popularity.

However, Japan’s strict anti-gambling laws could provide a stumbling block.

Japanese law outlaws most business activities that gather stake money from participants.

This could pose a problem for fantasy sports operators who make use of NFTs, as some require participants to pay “entry fees.”

Working with overseas firms could also be problematic.

The Japanese media outlet CoinPost explained:

“If a Japanese sports organization provides a license to an overseas business operator, and it is clear that this license is used for gambling, it may be guilty of the crime of abetting gambling.”

The white paper is likely to recommend that companies get around this by asking sponsors to provide prize money and prizes.

The paper will also seek to “clarify the regulatory environment” for NFT operators and sports teams.

The team will also support the establishment of an “industry group” for firms that make use of NFTs.

It will further request that the public and private sectors “work together to formulate guidelines.”

The Web3 team works alongside a dedicated NFT taskforce, which was launched in 2022.

Around a year ago, the team recommended that Tokyo appoint a Web3 government minister.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has repeatedly talked up the idea of developing the nation’s blockchain, metaverse, NFT, and even crypto industries.

He underlined the nation’s commitment to Web3-powered business development at a meeting with UK-based investors last year.