Japan's ruling party says won't regulate bitcoin for now

TOKYO - Japan's leading Liberal Democratic Party said it decided against regulating bitcoin for the time being, after the collapse of Tokyo-based bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox prompted them to consider more scrutiny of the virtual currency.

Mt. Gox, once the world's biggest bitcoin exchange, filed for bankruptcy in February after saying hackers stole 750,000 bitcoins belonging to its customers. "Basically, we concluded that we will, for now, avoid a move towards legal regulation," Takuya Hirai, an LDP lawmaker who leads the party's internet media division, said on Thursday, adding that a final decision would be made after hearing more opinions on the subject.

The use of electronic currencies has drawn the attention of governments around the world who are unsure whether, and how, to regulate them. US agencies ranging from the New York bank regulator to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission have also been looking into possible regulation.

A task force of US state regulators is also working on the first bitcoin rulebook, hoping to protect users of virtual currency from fraud without smothering the fledgling technology.