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driver's license agreement 2008/3/24 01:21
Can anyone tell me what the driver's license agreement between Japan and other countries is based on and why the US is not included??
by Jack Riley  

safety 2008/3/25 10:59
I have heard that is based on the driving safety record of the country compared to Japan`s driving safety record, but I don`t know if that is the only reason.

Good luck with the test.
by driver rate this post as useful

... 2008/3/25 11:09
One of the main reasons that there is no driver's license agreement with the US is that the requirements to obtain a license in the US varies from state to state. The Japanese government does an evaluation to make sure that the standards are equivalent to obtaining a license in Japan. It would be too costly and take to long to do the study for every state in the US. And there just isn't the demand to justify the costs.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

international driver's permit 2008/3/25 23:45
I've lived in Japan for a while now and considered driving. B4 I answer your Q, I would like to caution against driving in Japan (especially the larger cities). Train and bus service is impeccable, safe, fast, cheap and convenient. You can go almost ANYWHERE in Japan w/o a car. The larger cities are fast paced, confusing, and do not follow a grid system. A Navi is a must. But if you insist on driving, here's what you need to consider:
With a foreign tourist visa (less than 3month stay), you can drive legally in Japan with an international permit. If you have a visa or will stay longer than 3mo, it is highly recommended to get a Japanese drivers lic. The laws are not clear, but if you cause trouble and don't have the permit, fines or jail time are possible and likely outcomes (check the US embassy page in Japan). Getting a Japanese driver's lic is complicated and costly. You will need to take both a written and driving test, likely in japanese so your language skills had best be decent.

Gambatte kudasai!
by spammunch rate this post as useful

thank you, but--- 2008/3/30 00:27
Thanks for your responses. I have spent a total of six yrs in Japan and have driven cycles and cars the entire period. yllwsmrf's suggestion isn't valid in this age of computers where it would take a matter of hours to review the driving records of all the states. I'm returning in three months and will have to sort things out over there. Thanks again
by Jack Riley rate this post as useful

. 2008/3/30 10:47
Other than what's already been mentioned, the reason US license holders have to take the exams to get a Japanese license is because most, if not all, the States require Japanese license holders to take exams to get a US license.

Eye for an eye, I guess.
by Po rate this post as useful

Here:s why 2008/3/31 08:39
The Embassy spoke with the Superindendent of the License Division, Traffic Bureau, of the National Police Agency (NPA) to learn that...

Complete article here:

http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-drive.html

Authentic practice tests and good information here.

http://www.japandriverslicense.com/
by Kiyo rate this post as useful

... 2008/3/31 09:12
Jack Riley,
In regards to your post:
in this age of computers where it would take a matter of hours to review the driving records of all the states.

Yes, it's technically feasible utilizing computers but the logistics and communication between the systems apparently prevents this. The states themselves don't have connected computer systems. How will Japan access them?

It apparently will still require more traditional methods of study, and at least 3-4 years as in the case of Canada. From the US Embassay website:

Canada received approval on February 1, 2003 after a lengthy (3-4 years) review. Canada had to submit responses to a lengthy questionnaire, regarding each of the country's 13 provinces and territories. In order for the U.S. to be exempt from the driver test requirement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must instruct the Japanese Embassy in Washington to contact each of the 50 states and provide them with a questionnaire. Once the 50 individual questionnaires are collected, they will be translated into Japanese and studied by the National Police Agency. In addition to individual state safety records and procedures for acquiring a license, the National Police Agency will be looking closely to see if each of the 50 individual states exempt holders of valid Japanese licenses from taking state road and written tests.

We shared with the NPA statistics which showed that the United States had a risk value much lower than that of Japan's with respect to fatalities as a share of vehicle kilometers traveled. We were told that the Japanese police still needed to see the safety records of each individual state. The Police are also concerned to see if each of the 50 individual states exempt holders of valid Japanese licenses from taking state road and written tests (many do not).


There is also speculation, as Po mentioned, that it may not be approved because some states (like California) require Japanese to sit the state license tests in a matter of weeks (10 days for CA) of arriving. It is a reciprocal agreement so Americans won't be granted direct license transfers if Japanese citizens are not.

Also, I have a question for you. How were you driving for 6 years? Was is nonconsecutive or before the IDP rules changed? If, by chance, you held a license in the past you may be able to get a renewal. I have heard of that happening, however I have also met people that were denied renewals and had to sit the test.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

once again, thanks again(-: 2008/4/1 01:15
Reciprocal agreements not withstanding one has to wonder why, when in most states a very nonimal fee is charged for a brief road test, Japan puts one through a lengthy written and practical test at an exorbitent expense. The "question" is essentially rhetorical as, having spent six yrs living there, I'm quite familiar with most things Japanese, and it's quite frustrating to say the least. Don't get me wrong. When all is said and done, I'd rather live there, hence the move and hopefully for the last time. I want to leave you with something that has bothered me for a long time, and that clearly illustrates my frustration. Japanese license plates indicate the number "9" with the lower case letter "g". I've pointed it out to many people, some in positions of authority. Do I expect it will be corrected in my lifetime? Not a chance. Everyone, have a great day.
by Jack Riley rate this post as useful

... 2008/4/1 09:15
Hi Jack,
I totally understand your frustration with the whole driver's license process and I was feeling quite the same way when I had to go through it. After I realized a few things though, it doesn't seem as unreasonable as I had originally thought. Let me address some of your concerns:

Reciprocal agreements not withstanding one has to wonder why, when in most states a very nonimal fee is charged for a brief road test, Japan puts one through a lengthy written and practical test at an exorbitent expense.

Let's compare using California as an example again because I'm originally from California. Anyway, to get a new license the minimum expense is $28. You must pass a 36 question multiple choice test with at least 70% correct and a road test. http://www.dmv.ca.gov/dl/dl_info.htm#two500

To transfer your license in Japan (and it may vary from prefecture to prefecture) you must take a 10 question T/F test with 70% correct (available in multiple languages but translated poorly) and a road test. It costs roughly 2500 yen and another 3000 yen for the translation (http://www.jaf.or.jp/e/switch.htm). I would hardly call 5500 yen an exorbitant expense.

However the problem arises if you don't already have a transferable license in your home country. In that case you will have to take driving classes which can be quite expensive. But it is the same if you want to get a license in the states and you don't know how to drive. You will also have to take classes and the costs are comparable.

I want to leave you with something that has bothered me for a long time, and that clearly illustrates my frustration. Japanese license plates indicate the number "9" with the lower case letter "g". I've pointed it out to many people, some in positions of authority. Do I expect it will be corrected in my lifetime? Not a chance.

Is this a vital problem that needs changing? The font is confusing to us because we have the number 9 and the letter g that can be mixed up. This is irrelevant in Japanese as they only have the number 9. There is nothing to confuse it with.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

3 more diff. when trans. a license 2008/4/1 13:35
In Japan a test car is used and you don't use your own car.

There are two types of licenses: one for automatic transmissions, and another for manual

The driving test is done on a controlled test course where others who are taking a driving test are driving.
by Miki rate this post as useful

frustration 2008/4/1 13:54
Come on Smurf!! You know that Arabic numerals are the same the world over and in that system the numbers 6 and 9 are inversions of each other. I find it hard to accomodate the fact that I have to go to school to learn how to do something I've been doing for 55 yrs on the suggestion of someone who doesn't know the Arabic numeral system. I keep getting conflicting messages from the Forum. I'm hoping to settle in the Wakayama area and would like a difinitive answer as to whether or not I'll have to spend nearly $4000 at driving school. Have a great day.
by Jack Riley rate this post as useful

... 2008/4/1 15:06
Come on Smurf!! You know that Arabic numerals are the same the world over and in that system the numbers 6 and 9 are inversions of each other. I find it hard to accomodate the fact that I have to go to school to learn how to do something I've been doing for 55 yrs on the suggestion of someone who doesn't know the Arabic numeral system.

Jack,
I believe you are missing my point. I understand that Arabic numerals are the same in Japan, but they don't use the Arabic alphabet. A g might be assumed to be a 9 to a Japanese person.

It's like the difference between hiragana and arabic h. If you saw an on a license plate in the US you would assume that it was an h.

I keep getting conflicting messages from the Forum. I'm hoping to settle in the Wakayama area and would like a difinitive answer as to whether or not I'll have to spend nearly $4000 at driving school. Have a great day.

Do you have a valid American Driver's license? If so then you will not necessarily have to take driving school, and your costs would be more like $50-300 depending on how good you are at taking the driving test. If you don't already have a valid license then I'm afraid you are out of luck and will have to take the classes. Yes, unfortunately they can cost upwards of $3000.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

Driver's license? 2008/4/1 17:23
Do you have a current driver's license?
by Hiya rate this post as useful

Hello again 2008/4/2 04:13
Point is numerical and not alphabetical... I've held a valid license for the past 50 yrs and as previously stated I've driven in Japan for six of those yrs. (4 while in the military and one on an international license) That leaves 1,, (-:
by Jack Riley rate this post as useful

What country? 2008/4/2 07:26
What country is your driver's license from? I am from the USA and with a valid California Driver's license, I got a Japanese driver's license fairly easily without much expense.
by Hiya rate this post as useful

... 2008/4/2 09:17
I've held a valid license for the past 50 yrs and as previously stated I've driven in Japan for six of those yrs. (4 while in the military and one on an international license) That leaves 1,, (-:

If you have been outside of Japan for 3 months then you can use an IDP for a year when you return. You don't have to sit the classes, and in that years time you can do the process to get a Japanese license which will cost between 5000-30000 yen and take anywhere from 1 day a few months depending on how well you can take the driving test. Remember it's not a test of how competent of a driver you are. It is a test of taking tests.

One more thing to note, if you have ever been stopped for speeding, have multiple parking tickets, drunk driving, etc. in Japan it will likely affect your license. You can get the license but you may find it automatically suspended once you get it.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

looking forward 2008/4/2 12:02
I guess enough has been said on the subject. I just want to thank all of you for your input. Looking forward to living out my life in Japan. I wish you all health and happiness.
by Jack Riley rate this post as useful

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