Japan's Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF), which oversees more than $1.5 trillion in assets, has announced plans to explore the possibility of diversifying part of its portfolio into Bitcoin, among other assets. 

This move is part of a broader strategy to assess a variety of illiquid alternative assets, including gold, forests, and farmland, for potential inclusion in its investment mix. This marks a significant departure from its traditional focus on stocks and bonds, although the GPIF has not yet committed to investing in these new asset classes.

The fund is seeking to deepen its understanding of these assets and how they might fit into the investment strategies of pension funds internationally. 

This initiative is part of GPIF's ongoing efforts to enhance the sophistication of its investment approach, which has seen an expanded interest in assets like real estate, infrastructure, and private equity in recent years.

The inclusion of Bitcoin in the GPIF's research list is notable given its high profile and the debates surrounding its risk profile and potential as a hedge against inflation, similar to gold. 

However, the GPIF has made it clear that this exploratory phase does not necessarily indicate a future investment in Bitcoin or any other new asset class.

The context of this exploration is further underscored by recent legislative changes in Japan, which now allow investment funds to hold Bitcoin directly. This development is part of a larger trend towards integrating Bitcoin into Japan's financial system, the world's third-largest economy.

Currently, the GPIF's investments are predominantly in domestic and foreign bonds and stocks, accounting for 97% of its portfolio. 

A decision to diversify into alternative assets would represent a notable shift in strategy for the fund, which supports the pensions of over 67 million people in Japan.

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