Japan’s Driving Schools Target Foreign Residents in Order to Keep the Business Running
Thursday, July 12, 2018
With the number of students declining, driving schools aim to attract foreigners to survive
Japan’s Driving Schools Target Foreign Residents in Order to Keep the Business Running Driving schools in Japan are facing hard times. Larger cities have invested in their public transport network, one of the most secure, efficient, and reliable in the world, so fewer and fewer people need to use a private vehicle. The situation does not get any better in the rural areas where private vehicles are generally more relied upon either, the aging population is felt more sharply here, which means that the number of young people seeking to get a driving license has also suffered a significant drop. To help combat this situation, driving schools are targeting foreign residents as potential students, and the expat community is answering back. Some driving schools have introduced textbooks in other languages, such as English, Mandarin, or Portuguese, and some are even considering the possibility of having classes in those languages for students who do not feel comfortable speaking Japanese.
Switching licenses issued overseas
According to the current regulations, citizens from 28 different countries including Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Canada, and South Korea, can convert a valid driving license issued in their home country to a Japanese driving license without taking any additional examinations. Japan also accepts one-year international driving licenses under the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic. For anyone who does not fit those requirements, it will be necessary to go to driving school.
Quick overview to the driver education system
To obtain a driving license in Japan, first you have to enroll in a recognized driving school. You will have to pass a vision and color-recognition, as well as a hearing test, and psychotechnical screenings to ensure you are not a menace behind the wheel. After that, you will begin with lessons and driving with an instructor on a closed circuit. When you have completed this step, you will need to pass both a written and a practical exam that allow you go out on the road, still with an instructor, and join the advanced theoretical classes. Once you have completed that, you will take the ultimate on-the-road exam. If everything goes well, you will be issued a certificate to show you completed your education. Bring it to the nearest examination center and take a final written exam of 95 questions. Luckily, the test is only made up of true or false questions. If you manage to score over 90 points you will receive your license the same day. The cost of a driver education course is around 300,000 yen, and usually includes 26 hours of theory and 31 hours of practical study. (Some schools may offer cheaper and quicker courses if you only plan to drive vehicles with an automatic transmission, but be aware that this will restrict you from driving any vehicles with a manual transmission on your license in the future).
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About the Author
Half writer, half reader. Tokyo based and deeply in love with - you can easily find me meandering around Shibuya or Shin-Okubo. Communication and marketing assistant by day, video game localizer by night.