For International Researchers
Driving in Japan
When driving in Japan, you must drive on the left-hand side. Traffic signals change in the order of green, amber and red. Driving under the influence of alcohol is strictly prohibited. As well as those caught driving under the influence of alcohol, people who have supplied drivers with alcoholic beverages, knowing they would be driving, or who have provided a vehicle also face harsh punishment. Japanese police may ask you to pull over for a breath analyzer test. By law, you do not have the right to refuse this test. The legal limit for blood alcohol content is 0.03, or 0.15 ml per liter of breath. In the event that you are arrested for driving above the legal limit, you may be dismissed from AIMR.
Non-Japanese who hold an International Driving Permit are allowed to drive in Japan for a period of one year after the date of arrival. If you wish to drive in Japan, you must obtain an International Driving Permit in your home country before coming to Japan.
If you stay in Japan for more than one year, you will need to obtain a Japanese drivers' license (this rule is relatively new, and it dates back only to 2002.) If you leave Japan for three consecutive months or longer, you will be permitted to again drive with an International Driving Permit for a further period of one year.
If your stay in Japan is longer than one year, you will need a Japanese driver's license. The easiest way to do this is to covert the license issued in your home country into a Japanese license. No paper-based test or driving test is required for holders of licenses issued in the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Korea. All you need to do is take an official translation of your license to your nearest driver's license center, along with proof that you stayed in the country of issue for at least three months after obtaining the driver's license, and take an eye test. For drivers' licenses issued in other countriesincluding the United States, China, India and Russiayou will be required to take both a paper-based test and driving test to obtain Japanese driver's license.