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Japanese Police Shut Down Protest at Mt. Gox

(@southtopia) | Published on February 22, 2014 at 09:36 BST

The small group of protestors outside Mt. Gox in Tokyo were moved on late yesterday by Japanese police, and warned not to return without a 'demonstration license'.

Organizer Kolin Burges said the police were called not by Mt. Gox, but one of the building's other tenants who had reportedly had enough of the protestors' week-long presence at the building.

Mt. Gox management was also said to be irritated by the ongoing sit-in, claiming "security problems" caused by the protest and other technical issues were slowing its progress at fixing its bitcoin withdrawal problem. The company had previously posted a notice on its support page claiming to be moving location.

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The protests received attention from both bitcoin fans and the Japanese media

This effectively ends the protest in its current form, since the group is unlikely to secure the license. For the most part the protest consisted only of two people, though they had been joined at other stages during the week by curious bitcoiners and financial media reporters. One of the Japanese language signs the pair was holding invited locals to join in and gave the street address.

Growing numbers

Burges said there were around 10 people standing near the building when police arrived. He explained:

"We went to the police station for a license and were told that for a demonstration license you need to move along a pre-planned route, with start and end points. So it looks like we cannot get a license and can't go back there."

Anyone walking through Tokyo on any given weekend is bound to encounter a rally or two, many of which do not appear to be moving, and which can be quite rowdy. The most common demonstration themes are anti-nuclear power or North Korea, plus the infamous loudspeaker buses operated by the far-right uyoku. The Russian, Chinese and US embassies are popular rallying points, and all have a permanent riot squad presence.

Burges indicated he still wanted to continue the protest in some form, but would have to think of other tactics. A physical presence may or may not be involved, though it is generally considered unwise to tempt fate with the Japanese police after a warning.

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The price of a bitcoin on Mt. Gox continues to slide, even falling below the $100 mark at one point and hovering around that amount since. Most price aggregators, including CoinDesk's Bitcoin Price Index, have removed Mt. Gox from their averages. The average global price is a comparatively robust $564, but still much lower than the $900 or so before the current problems began to get attention.

Protest images credit: Abasa Phillips

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