“Foreign Driver” stickers appearing on Okinawan rental cars

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Hi Blog.  In another turn of logic in Japan, where differentiation between foreigners and Japanese is so normal that it’s standard operating procedure for a significant amount of public policy, we have a case where “Foreign Driver” stickers have been created in Okinawa to call public attention to rental cars rented by foreigners.  Of course, with this constant differentiation comes the facile logical conclusion by policymakers that foreigners get into accidents BECAUSE they are foreigners.  And presto, more public policy that once again targets foreigners.

All the heart marks and polite language below in the “Foreign Driver” sign can’t compensate for that fact.  Anyone want to find out if domestic NJ residents with Japanese driver licenses, who of course also become tourists if they travel within Japan, also get stuck with this sticker?  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Foreigner Driving Stickers Appearing in Okinawa
Fukuoka Now Magazine, Oct. 23, 2015, courtesy of SB
http://fukuoka-now.com/en/news/foreigner-driving-stickers-appearing-in-okinawa/

The number of foreign visitors renting cars is on the rise. In fiscal 2014, the number of car rentals around Fukuoka Airport jumped 250% to 6,572. Meanwhile, the Kyushu District Transportation Bureau offers a ¥2,500 2-day “all-you-can-drive” expressway pass. In the three-month period of last October to December, about 2,000 foreign tourists used the service, and the bureau expects this year’s numbers to outstrip last year’s. In Okinawa, a spate of minor accidents has led car rental shops to put “Foreigner Driving” stickers on cars rented to foreign tourists.“I keep an eye out for rental cars with wa license plates now,” admits a local taxi driver, referring to the rental car license plates whose numbers are prefaced by the hiragana character wa (わ).

Source: Nishinippon Shimbun 10/22

OkinawaGaikokujinDriverstickerOct2015

ENDS

14 comments on ““Foreign Driver” stickers appearing on Okinawan rental cars

  • David S Young says:

    I won’t deny that it can lead to odd negative stereotypes, however they do have a point especially in Okinawa where the number of Us military personnel who come for a year or less and may not be familiar with the traffic signs and laws is high. And to be fair they require stickers/magnets for their own citizens who are either new drivers or senior citizens.

    Reply
  • Jim di Griz says:

    Yep, RFID ‘gaijin cards’, ‘gaijin driver stickers’, Japan really is just one step away from making us all sew yellow stars of David on our clothes like Jews in Nazi Germany. I guess that on the street, in the store, at the restaurant doorway, they can actually see we’re not Japanese, and discriminate. However, when NJ are driving, I guess the Japanese can’t always see our ethnicity due to light reflecting off the glass, or shadows in the car- must be terrible for them to realize after the event that they could have driven like total ass-hats and blamed any resulting accidents on ‘stupid gaijin who don’t know the rules of the road in Japan!’ Well, I guess they can all breathe a sigh of relief now that NJ will have effectively a big label in their car that says ‘Please discriminate against me!’

    What’s the betting that this will be rolled-out to cover all NJ drivers in Japan, regardless of where they did their test, and whether they are driving a rental car or their own?

    Japanese really are the nice that would tie a bell to the NJ cat’s neck if only they were brave enough (in front of the international community) to do it.

    Reply
  • #3 JDG

    Hey look on the flip side.
    If I see a car with a NJ sticker, i can pass it safely knowing they wont suddenly stop in front of me, or change lanes without signally first, or take over more than half the road because they are afraid of the ditch on the passenger side thus impeding my way or constantly run red lights because there is no social contract to explain the consequences of not adhering to them or use the hazard lights ad nauseam when they are pulling over, turning slowing down etc etc…..it’s great.

    Now I know for sure which are the idiots to avoid and which are the well trained logical sensible drivers whom i don’t have to worry about all the time when I set off for a drive 🙂

    Reply
  • John K – very interesting as I have thought out loud about such a sticker for myself. See, I follow traffic rules much to the frustration of Japanese drivers. I follow the red light rules, I don’t exceed the speed limit, I make all passengers use seat belts and do not use my phone, read, shave, apply make-up or watch tv while I am driving. My sticker would say “foreign driver obeys traffic laws.”

    Reply
  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Interestingly enough, after posting my comment above about how the stickers are ‘needed’ because the Japanese can’t spot a Gaijin in a car, I read this;

    http://www.japantoday.com/category/kuchikomi/view/tabloid-dissects-halloweens-unnatural-popularity

    Article about Halloween in Japan. Relevant section is the police comment on the ‘need’ for 800 cops in Shibuya tonight;

    “As one example, on October 25, a violent melee broke out between Turks and Kurds outside the Turkish embassy,” says a police source. “The mere fact that large numbers of foreigners will be converging for Halloween is one more reason why we have to be on guard for possible acts of terrorism,”

    So, the police are telling the Japanese media that literally because there will be many NJ in the same place, it’s a terror risk.

    And;

    “it becomes impossible to tell Japanese apart from foreigners. Likewise it will be all the more difficult to spot someone carrying a suspicious package.”

    Because Japanese people never carry suspicious packages? If an NJ carries a suspicious package whilst wearing a costume, does the package become invisible or less suspicious?

    Reply
  • #6 JDG

    Not forgetting the fact that all the acts of terrorism that have occurred in Japan…yup, all home grown. Not a single NJ amongst them.
    Awesuchs…that would kind of spoil their party dogma though…bummer!

    Reply
  • Baudrillard says:

    Turks v Kurds on Halloween? I didnt know they celebrated it, and even if they do, doubt the date has much to do with their beef.

    As for mask wearing, it is a Japanese tradition (e.g.Tengu Kamen).
    And cosplay happens daily.

    But we have seen rightists demonstrating against Halloween and even harrassing Njs in the past for daring to “have fun” http://www.splicetoday.com/pop-culture/japanese-gangsters-cancel-halloween-in-japan

    They just do not like it because it is not “Japanese” (though postmodern Japan is not really either).

    And there is a long Japanese “tradition” to appropriate foreign culture and make it their own anyway- http://www.google.com.sg/url?q=http://www.cracked.com/blog/28-japanese-halloween-costumes-that-will-haunt-your-dreams/&sa=U&ved=0CB8QFjACahUKEwizgqmbs-7IAhVBYaYKHWJhCS0&usg=AFQjCNFAjQKg1kUYLb-Q_YygIhW5P_KpCg

    Reply
  • The number of the police at Shibuya yesterday was absolutely absurd. I heard that some people were at risk of being trampled partly due to the poor handling and restriction of the crowd by the police as well, but I’m not sure if that is accurate or not.

    As soon as I saw the electric announcement sign panels slowly scrolling English, you could tell it was because they thought “foreigners were gonna cause trouble” yet again. It was absolutely disgraceful.

    Although, I usually avoid Shibuya in general because that whole area is not exactly a place to go to relax. Same mentality as the article above, “label the dangerous foreigners”, whether true or not.

    Reply
  • In 2005 I came in Japan with my 24 years old foreigners driving license corresponding to gold Japanese, including largest motorbikes.
    After 3 years of my embassy refusing the renewal, finally I had been able to switch to Japanese driving license.
    Surprising, I was assigned to have a green beginner and reduced the motorbikes to 400 CC, all against the bilateral treaty for driving license conversion between Japan and my country.
    I asked the JP police if there was a mistake, but they answered, you are lucky to get this find the help with your embassy.
    Done, I opened a case with my foreign affair ministry and it toke 4 year to get unlimited motorbikes, silent about the gold one; because meanwhile I turned into blue.
    Now after 7 years finally I do have the gold driving license for cars and unlimited motorbikes.
    But, if for my sake I prefer to leave one of my cars at home in Tokyo, and want to rent a car in another JP city do I have to be fingered out as a dumb foreigner driver with a sticker?

    Cannot believe this country as difficult is to get a gold driving license (especially for Japanese drivers.)

    Reply
  • Ummmm I got my driving license here in Japan so Do I have to use the sticker ???

    I went through all the pain to get my license eg: jumping through the hoops like classroom based text book lessons (I wanted to pull my hair out) and the god forsaken so called driving lessons (in which they dont teach you anything).

    So Does that mean “Im a good gaijin” for doing it the right Japanese way ?? (Im being sarcastic)

    Reply
  • These are brilliant!!! I want to make these in English, and put them on rental cars in Hawaii!

    “Japanese Driver” 心からの友情 Hawaii
    —– or —–
    “Foreign Driver” 心からの友情 Hawaii

    Oh, wait. This is illegal everywhere outside of Japan…
    Damn. Foiled again.

    Reply
  • OnceAGaijinAlwaysAGaijin says:

    From what I have observed driving on Miyakojima, being a gaijin driver = being a “safety driver” as a good proportion of the locals seem to drive liberally lubricated on the local moonshine, with only faded plastic/ tattered weatherbeaten “sleeping mawarisan” to take care of them.

    Renting a piece of old motorised junk is cheap and cheerful there, and I swear I am the only male non-DUI driver on the island. After drinking since breakfast, our pension owner (a former MHLW bureaucrat of all things) swervedrove us to the beach once. Never again; a real slow motion horror drive. Most people crawl around the island at about 20km and have a very catholic interpretation about which side of the road to drive on 😉

    Saying that, it’s better than my experience on Tobijima 20 years ago, when the local cop, King of his Island, marched right up to me off the ferry, demanded my ID, then cross-questioned my then-girlfriend about me, completely ignoring me, until convinced I wasn’t a criminal.

    Nippon Yokoso! 😉

    Reply
  • If they were REALLY TRULY interested in making the roads safer then they would make a sticker for drivers (of any origin!) who have been, for example, in one or more crash in the last year. But they are not interested in safety, they are just interested in “Othering” us.
    Why no sticker for foreigners like me who have never had an accident to show how safe I am? Because Japanese can’t feel superior to me then, that’s why.

    Reply

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