License to Drive and Spy

August 29, 2008 at 1:43 pm 3 comments

I thought it was pretty bad that I had to take an eight-hour course in traffic school a few years ago (let’s not go into reasons why…), but that’s nothing compared to the hoops you have to jump through in order to get a license in Japan.

In a humorous article from the front lines, Reuters correspondent Chang-Ran Kim reports that would-be drivers in Japan “must attend 26 lectures lasting 50 minutes each, and have 34 driving lessons before the final test.”

THIRTY-FOUR DRIVING LESSONS! I think I had to suffer through maybe five during summer school when I was sixteen. Then again, there are fewer car accidents in Japan than there are here. Maybe there’s a method to the madness.

First-aid training and twice-daily written exams are part of the package, too. There is even a mandatory personality test that seems designed to determine whether or not you’ll fall prey to road rage. Oh, and any score less than 90 out of 100 is considered a fail!

Perhaps it’s easier to stick to the subway system or hail a cab?

Foreigners looking to drive in Japan have a strangely arbitrary set of options. According to this online book for JET students, if you are from the United Kingdom, most European countries, Australia, Canada, New Zealand or Spain, you need only take a written and eye exam, but if you’re from the U.S., Africa, China, Brazil or Eastern Europe you have to take a written exam and a practical exam. (Hmm, what are they trying to say? That Americans can’t drive? Given that I’ve had to go to traffic school, I’m not really in a position to argue, but still…;)

Speaking of driving, it seems that Google Street View (with its constantly updated, panoramic satellite images of nearly every corner of the world) is not popular with everyone in Japan. Global Voices Online has put up an open letter to Google written by Japanese blogger and IT professional Osamu Higuchi that describes why the sudden loss of privacy disturbs him. For Higuchi, Street View feels “instinctively wrong”, partly because “The residential roads of Japan’s urban areas are a part of people’s living space, and it is impolite to photograph other people’s living spaces.”

Sarah S.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sarah S.  |  September 4, 2008 at 7:36 am

    An 87 is pretty darn good!! I had to take my written test again, too, so don’t feel bad 🙂

  • 2. rokkuramu  |  August 29, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    Woh, I totally failed then. I scored an 87…and that was the 3rd time taking the test. D’oh!

  • 3. License to Drive and Spy  |  August 29, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    […] Original post by jpbizdirect […]


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August 2008