Many foreigners appear to be interested in driving in Japan. The following is a list of things you need when driving in Japan and requirements to obtain a Japanese driver's license.
JAF (Japan Automobile Federation) publishes and sells the foreign language versions of the "Rules of the Road" to help foreign motorists understand Japanese Traffic rules in order to prevent the occurrence of traffic accidents. Digital Format and Printed Format is available. We strongly recommend to purchase one these books in your own language and learn about the road rules in Japan. Please also refer to "Traffic Rules in Japan".
To understand more about Japanese Traffic Rules and regulations, please access the link below. It is very important to know the basic rules before hitting the road for safe driving.
Apart from a valid Japanese Driver's License, these licenses are permitted to drive in Japan. Please read "How to Switch your Driver's License to a Japanese License" if you are planning to convert your license to a Japanese one.
Kindly note that International Driving Permit (IDP) is intended for short-term visitors, not middle/long-term residents who have their address registered in Japan. Those who consider driving occasionally are also encouraged to apply for this license conversion at their earliest convenience.
International Driving Permits issued by signatory to the 1949 Geneva Convention
International Driving Permit is valid for up to one year on the condition that:
1) Not more than one year from the date of issue
2) Not more than one year from your date of entry to Japan
The shorter period of the above is your permitted driving period in Japan
For license issued in Switzerland, Slovenia, Germany, France, Belgium, Monaco, Taiwan
If you need your license to be translated into Japanese, JAF can help you.
You need to meet the following requirements.
Visual acuity of 0.3 or better in each of the left and right eyes and 0.7 or better in both eyes. If one visual acuity does not reach 0.3, the better side of the vision must be 0.7 or better. The visual field must be 150 degrees or better (corrected vision with glasses, lenses etc. are acceptable).
Hearing in both ears at a distance of 10 meters, the applicant must be able to hear a 90 decibel alarm (hearing compensated by a hearing aid is also acceptable).
You must be able to distinguish red, blue and yellow.
The ability to operate a steering wheel or other device at will is required for the safe operation of a motor vehicle.
The minimum driving age is 18 years old for a car and 16 years old for a motorcycle (apart from a heavy motorcycle). Please read "Japanese Driver's License Classifications & Their Meanings" for further details.
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