Driver’s licenses which permit driving of automobiles in Japan are as follows:
Japanese driver’s license
International driving permit
Foreign driver's licenses
Japanese Driver’s License
Driver's licenses issued by public safety commissions in Japan.
International Driving Permit
International driving permit issued in one of the signatory countries/territories (not including Japan)of the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic (1949).
Must be able to simultaneously present passport.
International driving permit
List of signatories to the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic
International driving permits are valid for one (1) year from the date of issue (be sure to confirm the date of issue) and their validity for driving in Japan is one (1) year from the date of landing in Japan (confirmed by the immigration stamp in the passport showing the date of landing in Japan).
However, persons on the basic resident register who leave Japan and subsequently re-enter the country within less than three (3) months will not have their re-entry date considered as their date of landing (the start date for driving eligibility in Japan).
International driving permit acquired from signatory countries to the Paris Convention (1926), the Washington Convention (1943) or the Vienna Convention (1968) are not accepted.
Foreign Driver's Licenses
Drivers with licenses issued by Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Slovenia, Monaco or Taiwan must be able to simultaneously present their passport and a Japanese translation of their driver’s license.
Domestic driver's license of Switzerland, Germany, France, Taiwan, Belgium, Slovenia or Monaco
Japanese translation of the domestic driver's license
Japanese translation of the driver's license must be issued by the respective country’s embassy or consulate in Japan or by the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF).
For Taiwanese licenses, a Japanese translation of the driver's license must be issued by the JAF or the East Asia Relations Commission.
Foreign driver's licenses are valid for driving in Japan for one (1) year from the date of landing in Japan (confirmed by the immigration stamp in the passport showing the date of landing in Japan) or until the expiration date of the foreign license, whichever is earlier.
However, persons on the basic resident register who leave Japan and subsequently re-enter the country within less than three (3) months, will not have their re-entry date considered as their date of landing (the start date for driving eligibility in Japan).
For Customers Who Rent a Truck or Bus
Please check that your permit has a stamp in the D box for driving a car in the W4 class or BUS2 class.
D: Large passenger vehicle (10 passengers or more)
Types of vehicles that can be driven
For Safe Driving
Passengers taking driver's seat and front passenger seat should wear their seatbelts at all times.
Use of a mobile phone is prohibited while driving a car.
The law requires you to drive on the left side of the road in Japan.
Keeping a safe distance from the car ahead.
After entering a gas station and pulling up next to a pump, pull the gas cap opening lever so that the attendant can fuel your car.
Park only in parking areas. Illegal parking is punishable by law.
Japanese Traffic Signs
Signs above are important for your drive in Japan
Print Traffic Signs
Precautions for Parking
The control of parking violation is very stringent.
Be sure to park your car in the parking area when you are leaving the car. In addition to the police, private contractors can also charge drivers with parking violation.
When a violation sticker was affixed, payment of a penalty is necessary.
Never park your car in any place other than a parking area. When you leave your car even for a short time, your car will be regarded as an illegally parked car.
When the Illegal Parking Sticker is attached to a rented car
Examples of areas where parking and parking/stopping are banned
Road near intersection and inside intersection.
Pedestrian crossing and bicycle crossing zone.
Area near bus stop and entrance for vehicles, fire hydrant, fire-fighting water tank, fire alarm, etc
When you fail to complete the formalities before returning a rented car
Charge you Illegal Parking Fee of 25,000 yen for ordinary-sized cars and 30,000 yen for medium-and large-sized cars designated by our company.
If you fail to complete the formalities or pay the Illegal Parking Fee, we will report you to the police, Public Safety Commission, and Rent-a-Car Association; any requests from you for rental cars will be refused from all of our branches in Japan.
If you go to the police after returning the car, pay the penalty, and present the Illegal Parking Sticker and receipt to us, we will refund the Illegal Parking Fee.
If you receive a parking ticket, report to the nearest police and contact to the shop.
Precautions for Parking
The 4th and 5th Paragraphs of Article 51-4, Road Traffic Law
Fine for Illegal Parking
In the event that a driver of illegally parked vehicle does not pay a citation, the user of the vehicle will be ordered to pay a fine for illegal parking. The driver/user will not be ordered to pay it in the following cases within 30 days after he/she receives a parking ticket:
The driver/user of illegally parked vehicle has paid a citation.
The illegal parking is prosecuted. (For juveniles, it is tried at a family court.)
The driver should normally be responsible for illegal parking. In the event that it is impossible to pursue driver's legal responsibility, the user shall be responsible for it.
(Note) User is normally a person listed as a user in the vehicle inspection certificate.
Demand for Payment of Fine for Illegal Parking and Coercive Collection
If the person who was ordered to pay a fine for illegal parking does not pay it even after the payment is overdue, he/she will be urged to pay with a collection letter. If the person who was urged to pay a fine for illegal parking does not pay it within the specified time, the payment may be collected on a mandatory basis.
Article 51-8 to 51-11, Road Traffic Law
To check illegally parked cars and put parking tickets on them can be consigned to private sectors. This has led private traffic wardens to patrol the streets and put parking tickets on illegally parked cars. Traffic wardens patrol in accordance with a guideline in which the police chief provides places and times to be intensively controlled based on residents' intentions and demands.
The guideline is released in advance e.g. posting on a bulletin board of the police station.