JDriver on J Driver License renewals and questionable legality of residency/Gaijin Card checks to ferret out “illegal overstayers”

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Hi Blog. We’ve discussed on Debito.org before the rigmarole of NJ drivers in Japan getting J Driver Licenses, being subjected to extra intrusive procedures that are of questionable legality. Well, a Debito.org Reader decided to do his civic duty and ask for some reasons why. And this is what he found out. Read on and feel free to contribute your own experiences. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

July 13, 2014
Hi Debito, I’m a long time reader, but rarely have time to comment. I’ve had a pretty disheartening, if not entirely surprising, experience recently when I went to renew my drivers license and thought I’d share it with you and perhaps your readers if you find it worthwhile to share.

As you might know, residents of foreign citizenship (外国籍の方 in the bureaucratic parlance) are required to show their residence cards or in other way demonstrate their status of residence when getting or renewing their drivers license. Obedient citizen as I am, of course I went along with it and presented it when asked, but I did make clear I would like to be clarified on the legal basis for such a request. I didn’t expect that the person doing the registration would know something like this off the top of their head, but I was intended on talking to someone eventually who could point to this and that paragraph of this or that law that governs these circumstances.

So after all the procedure was finished and I got my license, I went to the window I was told I’d get my questions answered. The first person could only, after quite a while, produce the Immigration law article 23, which only says that you are in general required to present the passport or the residence card when the police and other authorities ask for it “in the execution of their duties.” So I asked for a specific law or ordinance that shows that in this concrete case it is indeed their duty to ask for the card. I got sent to her boss, who again only wasted my time with the same answer (Immigration law) and got irritated and dismissed me, but not before arranging for me to see the final boss of bosses, who should be able to answer my, I thought very simple, question i.e. what is the legal basis for what you’re doing?

Neither the last guy could legitimize the demand in legal terms, so we agreed that he will research it and call me later to let me know. He did call later the same day, only to tell me that after all, the legal basis would have to be in the Immigration law, because he couldn’t find any other! He said it is all done to prevent the “illegal overstayers” from getting drivers license, as if that, or any other goal, would justify working outside of legal framework.

I was flabbergasted that apparently no one in the whole Koto drivers center (江東試験場) knew the legal basis of their actions. I understand the receptionists, but I went four stages up their hierarchy and still nobody could justify their demands in legal terms. I’ve read the law on traffic before I went there and knew it did not specify this (道路交通法 http://law.e-gov.go.jp/htmldata/S35/S35HO105.html) but I revisited it again afterwards. Neither it, nor the other major traffic law (道路法 http://law.e-gov.go.jp/htmldata/S27/S27HO180.html) even mention status of residence or residence cards at all, and most certainly not when specifying the circumstances in which the authorities can refuse to issue you the license (physically unfit, alcoholism etc) It actually specifically states that they must issue you the permit if these do not apply, and you’ve passed the test (Article 90

So I am now faced with an inevitable conclusion that they asking for residence cards is likely ILLEGAL. Of course, this is a condition which only applies to foreign residents, so it is unlikely to cause a national uproar, but it is nevertheless very unsettling, and not only for NJ, which might be the primary target at present. My biggest problem in all this is that they seemed genuinely baffled that someone is asking for a legal basis for their conduct, and the inability of the whole place to come up with a justification. It seems to me the bureaucracy is very much used to acting outside the legal framework, or at the very least, do not think of their daily work as something done only on the firm basis of law.

I would be very much interested to hear your and your readers thoughts and perhaps similar experiences. I am seriously considering refusing to show the card next time, but bring the printed letter of the law which says they are obliged to issue me with a permit.

Sincerely, JDriver

28 comments on “JDriver on J Driver License renewals and questionable legality of residency/Gaijin Card checks to ferret out “illegal overstayers”

  • Ok, I’m chiming in on this.

    I took the driving exam in a prefecture on Shikoku Island, so pretty backwater. I was a JET at the time and I was living in the furthest, most remote part of the prefecture – no reliable bus service; train service went ONLY to the next prefecture, not to my prefecture’s capital (this is important); no highway access (“kokudou” only). I was a three-hour drive out of the city; to take the bus to the nearest train station and then ride to the driving center took five hours and cost 30 dollars one-way. This also meant I had to stay overnight if I wanted to make it on time to take the exam (and that had additional expenses), because there was no morning bus/train combo to get me there in the morning.

    Ok, so that’s the set up. A five hour commute to the city, a stay overnight at my friend’s house, four or five meals, 70 dollars round-trip, 40 dollars for the exam – and a lost day at work, which, thankfully, my school did not make me take vacation days (I think they understood how crooked the driving center was).

    So, I show up on the first day and drive flawlessly. “Sorry, you failed.” Why? I asked. “You didn’t do X.”

    Ok, so next week, I made sure to do X. “Sorry, you failed.” But why? “You did X.” But they said last week… “Sorry, but he is a different person with a different opinion. I say ‘Do X,’ so you fail.”

    That was their explanation. Literally that it was “his opinion, and he is different from me.” I didn’t know Japanese people were so individualistic, but there it was.

    This went on for TWELVE WEEKS. Each week, the examiner would give me a bogus reason for my failure that contradicted the previous week’s guy. Each week I would call them out for lying to my face (with a smile) and they would insist that it’s just a matter of differing opinions.

    When I finally called them out for making the test up as they went, the examiner pulled out a rule book – by sheer dumb luck, he had actually been following the rules in the book this week. “What on earth are you talking about? We follow the rules!”

    At this point I tried to appeal to their humanity. I said, “Look. You are ruining my life. I live in the inaka. I NEED my car. I can’t do ANYTHING now, I can’t even go grocery shopping. I’m spending hundreds of dollars each week just do take this test, and you are lying to me. Please, stop this,” I begged the examiner.

    He shrugged. “It’s a test.” No, I thought it was each man’s opinion?! “No, it is a test. There is nothing I can do.”

    To be dead honest, this was the worst experience of my life up to that point – that sounds petty and childish, I know. But that was the first time I had been completely under someone’s control, under their power. It was the first time I had someone arbitrarily abuse that power, and lord it over me, openly telling me that they did not care how much it hurt my life. Made it clear that they would bend and break the rules for their own pleasure, but not if it helped me in any way.

    What twisted the knife in my gut was when I turned to the JET community for help. “Oh, the driving guide we gave you was wrong. You have to do this instead of that.” The next exam, I changed on, tiny, arbitrary, pointless thing in my driving (I touched a cross with my tires in the middle of an intersection) and I finally passed.

    The man grinned at me, congratulated me. And it took all my inner strength not to tell him to go fuck himself, this only happened because of your sick, twisted bullying.

    So, yeah. The DMV in Japan is using BS made up rules that they don’t actually understand and are probably illegal, but follow unquestioningly because it’s the way things are done, and respond with exasperated indignation when called out on it, as if YOU’RE the one wasting THEIR time?

    I can believe that.

  • Guest-4321 says:

    It is entirely legal. The law doesn’t allow licences to be issued to people who are not legally resident in Japan so you have to prove that your period of stay has not expired and that you are living in the prefecture of the licence centre that you are applying to. Japanese people implictly face the same check because they also need to provide a juminhyo which would indicate their nationality if they were non-Japanese. I’ve had a licence issued just based solely on my juminhyo without showing a physical card, but this was because my card had not yet been updated.

    I think The reason for this has less to do with catching overstayers (who probably aren’t applying for licences) and more with the unusual system in Japan where each prefecture is prohibited from issuing a licence to anyone who isn’t legally registered there. For example, the driving test in Kanagawa is notoriously difficult, so some people ‘move’ to Tokyo (on paper only) until they pass the test there where it is much easier. The system is inherently strict to catch this sort of thing.

    The relevant laws are the enforcement ordinances and regulations that are just a mishmash of technical details and are continuously being updated. Here is the most explicit provision that says that foreigners should show the card, but there are many others that indicate the specific information that must be collected by the licence centre, such as nationality etc. Its not unique to Japan and I thinks its quite reasonable to be honest.



    第十七条  法第八十九条第一項 の内閣府令で定める様式は、別記様式第十二のとおりとする。
    2  前項の様式の免許申請書には、次に掲げる書類及び写真を添付(第三号、第五号又は第八号に掲げるものについては、提示)しなければならない。
    一  運転免許(以下「免許」という。)を受けようとする者(以下「免許申請者」という。)が住民基本台帳法 の適用を受ける者である場合にあつては、住民票の写し(同法第七条第五号 に掲げる事項(外国人にあつては、同法第三十条の四十五 に規定する国籍等(以下「国籍等」という。))を記載したものに限る。第二十条第二項第二号及び第三十五条第一号において同じ。)


  • Peter McArthur says:

    I really don’t see what the problem is. If you have government issued ID, I think it is entirely appropriate that you should be required to present it when getting a driving license.

    It may be unfair that the ID card system only applies to foreign residents, but that’s hardly the fault of the civil servants at the Public Safety Commission.

  • I’m an NJ, and I renewed my J driver’s license last Friday (July 11th, 2014) at the 大阪中央区南警察署。I didn’t have to show any extra ID besides my current driver’s license. So this might be something that is decided ad hoc on a regional basis. Which is, in my opinion, far worse because it means that the authorities are just deciding the requirements on their own, as the writer alludes to.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Seems like this is proof, to me, that Japan is so institutionally racist that people don’t even feel the need to question if an action is discriminatory, or even legal, when the person on the receiving end in NJ.

    Q: ‘Why do I need to show my NJ card?’
    A: ‘Because you are gaijin’.
    Q: ‘Is this legal?’
    A: ‘It doesn’t matter because you are gaijin’.

  • Re-reading the story, I’m a little bit confused. Is the writer Japanese or non-Japanese. He says he is an “obedient citizen” but then says that he provides his residence card as is required (for foriegners).

    “…residents of foreign citizenship (外国籍の方 in the bureaucratic parlance) are required to show their residence cards or in other way demonstrate their status of residence when getting or renewing their drivers license. Obedient citizen as I am, of course I went along with it and presented it when asked..”

  • NorthDriver says:

    I renewed my license today in Sapporo and was not asked to show anything but the current license.

  • I intimately understand the crushing and nerve racking feeling like you’re a second class citizen in Japan, so try to take this open-minded… I’m in customer service and I can tell you that when people don’t have the answers or solution to help, they make stuff up to get you off their backs, foreigner or otherwise. Sure, there is likely the usual baked-in prejudices likely at play to some degree, but they’re probably just tired and need to get on with their work. I think you need to elevate your battle — work smarter not harder. Do research on the topic and take the high road. This community could use an ally lawyer to send questions to. Perhaps one that does community/pro-bono work.

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    I think these problems stem from the fact that the driver’s licensing authorities are in fact subdivisions of the National Police Agency; with licensing being part of their “official duties”, it woud be difficult to claim that you could refuse to show such papers when dealing with them.

    I remember looking at one of their guides a number of years ago and noticing this, but today I’m looking at this English-language guide to changing a foreign license, on the NPA’s website:


    …and it says that you must bring ID but does not specifically say the alien card, either old-style or new-style.

    And TJJ, he’s clearly using “citizen” in its colloquial sense; the one in which, say, “citizens of New York” applies to everyone with a fixed presence there regardless of what nationalities they may hold. I admit that I hadn’t even noticed anything amiss when I read it.

  • Thanks for sharing my experience Debito.

    The comment No 2 “Guest-4321” has found the legal basis for it (in the additional regulations pertaining to 道路交通法 if not in the body of the law itself), and I thank you very much. It shows you are more capable than most of the employees of the Koto drivers center. I am now convinced and at peace with this issue. This is all I ever asked to begin with. I suspected there must be a clear and unambiguous legal basis for this somewhere, but when so many people failed to come up with it I started having second thoughts about it… I did find the request reasonable from the get go, but only wanted to be clear on the legal basis, that’s all.

    One thing you got wrong though, is that Japanese people do not face this same hurdle because Juminhyo is only required to obtain the license in the first place, and not for renewing it afterwards (unless one misses the renewal period and the license expires). Also, it is not enough to demonstrate geographical residence, they specifically ask on the renewal postcard for clarification of the status of residence. In the regulation you quoted above, this is hidden in the word “etc” or 等 in 国籍等 as per Basic Residents Registration Law, or whatever 住民基本台帳法 translates to.

    @ Comment No 6 “TJJ,” admittedly I was imprecise to use the word citizen. I thought it would be clear from the whole context that I am indeed a foreign resident, and citizen only in the sense that I share the same city… Thank you for pointing it out.

  • Oh dear:

    “… He said it is all done to prevent the “illegal overstayers” from …”

    I get this line endlessly from anyone and everyone i have to deal with in order “to get something”. Most common place is when getting travel insurance. This is the standard default line from all J’s in some kind of “authority” whether it be a shop assistant to the driving office.

    “..My biggest problem in all this is that they seemed genuinely baffled that someone is asking for a legal basis for their conduct,..”

    And therein lies the rub. Legality, law, etc has no meaning and no sway in Japan. Only Social ‘laws’. Anything that is considered “legal” is a cumbersome obstacle that may or may not be adhered to, simply to ‘show the world’ it is a law abiding country, yet it is not uncommon for transgressions in general to be overlooked, or even ignored. Or in this case…curious why you want to know a legal basis, what has the Law got to do with it…it is what “WE” tell you to do, ergo you must comply. Regardless what any “legal law” may say. Yet overstep any social law, and you’ll get the full weight of Japan Inc onto you from everyone, even total strangers. Social Laws trump legal Laws every single time in Japan, no exception!

    Guest 4321

    “..more with the unusual system in Japan where each prefecture is prohibited from issuing a licence to anyone who isn’t legally registered there..”

    This is what I had to do when i moved. Not just my drivers and ID card, but my car too. I had to register (at the usual exorbitant expense) my car from one prefecture to another, to get a new number plate. I later found out that many J’s don’t bother to register when they move prefectures for this very reason, cost. If they get pulled over by the police, they say,”ahh, so sorry…just about to change it”..kind of line.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ John K #11

    ‘And therein lies the rub. Legality, law, etc has no meaning and no sway in Japan. Only Social ‘laws’. Anything that is considered “legal” is a cumbersome obstacle that may or may not be adhered to, simply to ‘show the world’ it is a law abiding country, yet it is not uncommon for transgressions in general to be overlooked, or even ignored. Or in this case…curious why you want to know a legal basis, what has the Law got to do with it…it is what “WE” tell you to do, ergo you must comply. Regardless what any “legal law” may say. Yet overstep any social law, and you’ll get the full weight of Japan Inc onto you from everyone, even total strangers. Social Laws trump legal Laws every single time in Japan, no exception!’

    And this trumping of legal laws with social laws every single time is bullying, since it is always the one who perceives themselves to have the power to browbeat all other parties that wins.

    Japan is not ‘a nation of law’, it’s a nation of bullying.

  • Baudrillard says:

    @John K-“Legality, law, etc has no meaning and no sway in Japan. Only Social ‘laws’. Anything that is considered “legal” is a cumbersome obstacle that may or may not be adhered to, simply to ‘show the world’ it is a law abiding country”.
    Youre so right. Japan, like China (and to some extent Korea and their progressive NJ legislation-ignored by the populace in daily life) cares more about social laws and personal connections (sometimes rather rose tintedly referred to as “relationships” i.e. a form of nepotism or connections/boot licking) rather than the “laws” adopted for show. Even Stalin had a western style constitution, blathering on about human rights.

    Any small or even medium sized company I have worked for in Japan will blatantly ignore the law, especially in regards to NJs and e.g. pension/insurance contributions. Some companies will even try to get out of paying this for their Japanese employees. Laws are seen as non applicable to the private sector, and natch, to NJs.

    @Chester, I really sympathize with your story. Most of us have had absurd experiences like this, or its some other money guzzling local bureaucracy. Used to happen in China with the HIV/health test-“sorry you failed, try again!”. Its why I didn’t pass my motorbike written test despite several attempts, although the center guy there was more sympathetic to me-but some of the questions were very absurdly worded.

    But in a postmodern context Japan’s out of date laws and constitution do not always reflect the reality- its more of a western wishlist of what Japan could (have)become. It also stops Japan backsliding into what it was before. When Abe says he wants to make the constitution more Japanese, he is in a way correct, but it is the worst kind of Japan he is romanticizing and harkening back to. There are other “Japan”s, there always have been, e.g. the grassroots Ootomo movement, the Socialist movement etc – just these have not been in the “official” narrative and therefore are rebels and not the kind of “Japan” the entrenched power elite that Abe was born into want to enshrine in a constitution.

    So I did think J Driver was approaching this from a very “western logical” approach,and although calling their bluff really and sweeping aside the bullsht facade is fine, but to us older, jaded cynics frankly to expect any bureaucrat giving you a meaningful answer is expecting too much.
    Usually “because it is a rule” is reason enough for the average Obedient Citizen to obey without question (as the Mandarins in power are to be trusted- as one student of mine once said of Japanese judges, though the group in general, swept along in a kind of western inspired zeitgeist moment at the western company they worked at did not agree. N.b this was 10 years ago).

    Chester made an interesting aside as well- “I didn’t know Japanese people were so individualistic, but there it was. ” Well, they are individualistic, or individuals, within a corporate framework- they all reached the same goal though in different ways- which was the denial of your request. Geert Hofstede and the Hofstede Center point out how relatively highly Japan scored on Individuality, especially in comparison with other parts of Asia, but as often is the case with Japan- there is a caveat:
    “Japan scores 46 on the Individualism dimension. Certainly Japanese society shows many of the characteristics of a collectivistic society: such as putting harmony of group above the expression of individual opinions and people have a strong sense of shame for losing face. However, it is not as collectivistic as most of her Asian neighbours. The most popular explanation for this is that Japanese society does not have extended family system which forms a base of more collectivistic societies such as China and Korea….. One seemingly paradoxal example is that Japanese are famous for their loyalty to their companies, while Chinese seem to job hop more easily. However, company loyalty is something which people have chosen for themselves, which is an individualistic thing to do. You could say that the Japanese in-group is situational.”
    “… Japanese are experienced as collectivistic by Western standards and experienced as individualistic by Asian standards. They are more private and reserved than most other Asians. ”

  • OK, on closer reading, it turns out the Article 17 was not really what I was looking for exactly. Firstly, I deals with applying for a new permit, not extending the existing one. Then, it only spells out that all residents (J and NJ) have to show Juminhyo with honseki or kokuseki shown. So it has nothing on the demand for residence cards or other ways to clarify one’s status of residence WHEN EXTENDING (renewing 更新) a permit.

    Renewals are dealt with in the Article 29 instead. It’s a short and fairly straightforward Article (full of legal speak and requires going back and forth to various references in other laws etc, BUT) which only spells out the need for an application form, a photo and the existing license. The rest deals with special conditions such as bespectacled persons, elderly (over 70) etc. Note that word 在留 as in status of residence or residence card is again not even mention in the whole text of the regulation ONCE.

    So we are back at square one. It seems increasingly likely this does not have any basis in law i.e. is illegal. I wish I had more time to commit to this since I’ve started it all, but it will have to wait until at least this coming long weekend. I might take it up with the “head office” which I was referred to in the end, an entity called 警視庁運転免許本部 which will face my question: “If one refuse to provide the residence card when renewing the license, will you issue one the extension or not? If not, explain the legal basis for the denial.”

  • How about a hospital demanding to see your residence card, and making a photocopy of it, before they give you medical treatment? That’s what happened to me at NTT East Kanto hospital in Tokyo. And no, it isn’t standard practice at any other hospital I’ve been to. Only this one. Maybe somebody could call and demand a reason for this: 03-3448-6111.

    And to be clear: it wasn’t just an ID that they wanted. They specifically demanded the residence card carried by foreigners only.

    How does Immigration Law apply to a hospital? Perhaps we’ll need to show our residence cards to enter a department store or use the public restrooms too?

  • Al: did you have your national health insurance card handy? If so, then I see no reason why they should have demanded to take a copy of your gaijin card. You should have been treated like any other Japanese person with a health card.

  • Actually, in regards to what comment 15 Al said, I was almost turned down at a technical school once, where I went to get a work-related certificate. This is a private place that has no business prying into people’s immigration status, but they were adamant: either I show my card and establish that I’m not an illegal overstayer, or they will not accept my otherwise normal application. It was all of a sudden and they caught me off balance, but I had to show it.

    Immediately I was thinking of the implications: if such a non-related private entity can refuse me (and this is almost certainly illegal but one’s only recourse would be a [costly and lengthy] civil suit) where does it end indeed? What other establishments can turn you away? I hear a lot about hotels doing this. Now hospitals even! Would next step be restaurants, supermarkets, are we gonna have checkpoints in the neighborhood? It’s a small step indeed…

  • #17JD

    “…Now hospitals even! Would next step be restaurants, supermarkets, are we gonna have checkpoints in the neighborhood?..”

    As I noted above, and previously. Whenever I need to “get something” from someone, whatever it may be, the first question is always “may I see your immigration card please”. No amount of replies of “why, what for..” etc etc has any effect. Same old reply from everyone. Yet when i ask, are they the police or immigration…it goes over their heads, or they just ignore the request, and they keep repeating their Q, like a mantra.

    Apart from the obvious….where do these people, asking for the card, get the idea that this is a question they MUST ask and require before proceeding? Since i doubt this is part of the school curriculum! Whom ever is instructing the front line staff, is the person to expose and question, and in front of their front line staff too. Even though we all know what the outcome shall be…making them lose face in front of their staff…is small reward for being exposed as fascists.

  • 名無し says:

    This is just one of the many reasons why I ended up never bothering to get my Japanese driver’s license. I only got so far as having my American license translated but in the end didn’t even take the exam once. I too lived in Shikoku as a JET and not too far from my local DMV(only about 30 minutes by train). However my employer would not allow me to take the test unless I used my paid leave.

    In the end I just bought a bike as it turned out to be more than enough for my daily commutes to and from work. Not long after there was a noticeable amount of silent rage from the higher ups and the local bus drivers. I refused to take the buses to work because they were ridiculously early in the morning and appallingly expensive(an average of 350 yen for a 9-10 minute trip one way). All this, just because I refused to fall for and managed to circumvent the bullshit that is the Japanese driving test.

  • “… I refused to fall for and managed to circumvent the bullshit that is the Japanese driving test..”

    Well, perhaps I’m one of the lucky ones. When i presented my UK driver license to the local office, they said….oh you’re British. You have the hardest driving test in the world, and the official simply said just fill in the form and you’ll have your licence; he even apologised that the Japanese Licence didn’t cover everything that my UK licence did.. That was it 🙂

  • @19, There was silent rage from bus drivers because you didn’t use their service?!

  • @Chester

    I took a license at a center as well. There were some techniques that you had to learn, once you got that down and they could see you knew, you passed. It took several attempts. There is some training on the weekends as I recall. I got the scoop from some other Japanese and passed. I think every level has these techniques, truck, loader etc.

  • 名無し says:


    A valid UK drivers license does not require someone to take the actual driving exam. The United States driving laws vary from state to state and thus have created complications in reaching the point where Americans can simply convert their license in Japan. This was also the case with Canada up until fairly recently. It’s unlikely that this will ever happen for the USA because it would also require that Japanese citizens be allowed the same privilege(being able to convert their native license without taking the driving test in America).



    Up until the point when I got my bike, I was practically the only person who used the buses. This was in a small town, so I would often encounter the drivers when they were not working. Since my commute by bike overlapped with the bus routes, more often than not I would pass by the buses on the road. Often times the drivers demonstrated an amazing lack of courtesy by refusing to slow down when there was mere centimeters between us on the smaller country roads. They just flew on by while shooting me an angry look. I don’t know why they were in such a hurry to drive a bus that never had anyone on it.

  • Zig Justice says:

    @Al on comment 15:

    I was also asked for my 在留 card at the NTT東日本 hospital. I asked to know why, and told them I already provided my health insurance card. I also asked if they needed an extra piece of ID, and if so, if a driver’s license would be sufficient. As a reason, I said that the foreigner’s card contains all sorts of private information that they do not need, like passport number, and that I am only legally required to provide the card to police and immigrations officials. They backed down, and I didn’t need to provide any other ID, the insurance card was enough.

    I also complained to the counselor that I was there to see, and she told me she relayed my complaint to the appropriate party. I’d say I handled the situation better than could have been expected, given my circumstances (family tragedy).

    . o O (In principle, I won’t tolerate it anymore, but being informed is the first step. I just renewed my license at the beginning of June, and if I’d known there was nothing in the books about provision of the card being a requirement, I would have pushed back, persistently. I already had to waste half my day at that stupid lecture anyway.)

  • “Often times the [bus] drivers demonstrated an amazing lack of courtesy”

    Oooooohhhhh, no. They weren’t angry at you – that’s just how people in the inaka drive. “Amazing lack of courtesy” is the rule of the road in the inaka (my wife insists that this is true throughout Japan, but I try to be careful about overgeneralizing).

    Been in the inaka almost a decade now, and I can assure you – no one here has any manners, nor do they show any outward signs that they know the first thing about the laws governing cars. As far as I can tell, people seem to think that if they pay their shaken, they are automatically safe drivers.

    Reckless driving is easier than breathing for people out here. No, none of those bus drivers hated you, they were just bad drivers.

    — We’re getting off-road, er, off-track here. Steer it back.

  • OK, to sum this up, I was unable to find (and there most probably isn’t) any online questionnaire form or e-mail via which licensing department of the police could be reached. That central, main governing body I was referred to in the end has a phone number displayed at the bottom of this page (http://www.keishicho.metro.tokyo.jp/menkyo/menkyo/kousin/kousin01.htm), but I am not able to call them during working hours, and have grown tired of this honestly.

    My next extension is in 3 years and I’ll think about all of this again then. For those renewing their permits, be aware that there is nothing in the 道路交通法, its enforcement regulations, nor in 道路法 that obliges us to show the residence card, while the law does oblige them to issue us the permit.

    Also, it is laughable, or it would be if it weren’t illegal and ominous in its implications, to suggest that Immigration Law provides the basis for their claim in this case. No law can be applied arbitrarily disregarding its aim. The Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act is perfectly clear about is purpose, stating unequivocally in Article 1: “Article 1 The purpose of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act is to provide for equitable control over the entry into and departure from Japan of all persons and to consolidate the procedures for recognition of refugee status.” (http://www.japaneselawtranslation.go.jp/law/detail/?id=1934&vm=&re=)

    Not a word there about road safety, hospitals, or any other agencies/establishment using various pretexts to abuse its authority to enforce additional hurdles for visibly different and therefore presumably foreign residents. This is what it comes down to anyway.

    — Ever since the NPA started to deputize hotel front desks from 2005 (and probably before, but this was the first clear case that Debito.org became aware of), with random ID checks for guests who “looked foreign” in their quest to ferret out “illegal foreigners”, policy creep has made the extralegal practice of Gaijin Carding any NJ who wants anything official standard operating practice.

  • “– We’re getting off-road, er, off-track here. Steer it back.”

    In my defense, further establishing the arbitrariness and lack of enforcement of driving laws in Japan further emphasises the absurdity of JDriver’s situation.

    Not only are they going to make you take an arbitrary and meaningless test – they are going to violate your rights and demand your immigration papers, most likely illegally, before granting you a license.

    It’s the “shoe on other foot” test. There is no actual enforcement of driving laws here; there is literally no interest at any level of society in cleaning up Japanese drivers’ reckless driving – so why on earth are they so concerned about foreigners at the DMV?

    If they are so worried about people driving safely, they would actually go out and arrest Japanese people who drive recklessly. But they don’t do that. They just card the foreigners at the DMV, despite the fact that we are nowhere close to being the cause of the problems.

    Just once I want to see a cop sit at a traffic light and stop all the people running it; or stop even just one person whose children are jumping around the backseat; or ticket even one person who is watching the TV in his dashboard as he drives.

    Carding foreigners should be their absolutely, positively LAST priority until they can clean up their own awful, reckless, lawless drivers.

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