North Korean hackers have stolen $721 million from Japan since 2017, accounting for 30% of the crypto thefts worldwide. According to a study by a U.K.-based compliance specialist, North Korea employs hacking and ransomware to steal crypto assets, especially in Japan, Vietnam and Hong Kong, the leading Asian crypto hubs.
North Korean Hackers Eye On Japan’s Crypto
Lazarus Group, a North Korean-based hacker group’s blockchain wallet transactions have been tracked by analysis firm Elliptic. Out of $2.3 billion cryptocurrency stolen, Japan accounted for the largest portion, followed by Vietnam ($540 million), the U.S. ($497 million) and Hong Kong ($281 million).
Reports say, North Korea stole between $600 million and $1 billion in cryptocurrency in 2022, double the previous year’s total.
In the joint statement adopted by the Group of Seven finance ministers and central bank governors in Japan, top officials acknowledged the “growing threat from illicit activities by state actors” such as the crypto theft. Pyongyang has targeted the crypto assets of other countries including Vietnam and Hong Kong to find its missile programmes.
Crypto Market Sentiment in Japan
Japan has been at the forefront of the cryptocurrency revolution, with a favorable regulatory environment and strong support from both the government and the financial sector.
Research states that over 5 million people, or 4.0% of Japan’s total population, currently own cryptocurrency. The Japanese government also has taken a proactive approach to regulate the crypto market.
The Financial Services Agency (FSA) implements measures to protect investors and prevent money laundering and other illicit activities. It suspended crypto exchange FTX Japan last year.