By on October 7, 2015

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The Town & Country is back at home and, frankly — no pun intended — I’m exhausted.

As I had been warned, the necessary tests required an overnight stay for the van at the research facility and the two trips there and back sapped a lot of my energy. I was at the mercy of my iPhone’s navigation app — UConnect’s navigation, of course, doesn’t work in Japan — that led pell-mell all over the damn countryside without any real idea of where I was at any given moment. To make matters worse, when I wasn’t behind the wheel, there was an equally confusing three-hour train ride to deal with.

Once upon a time, I might have considered this a grand adventure. Right now, I’m just tired and in need of a beer.

To those of you following along at home, the process has taken just a few minutes of your time and a minimum of mental energy over the past couple of days. For me, however, it was the culmination of almost three weeks of preparation. The photo below is a graphic example of what I have been through. Take a moment to gaze in wonder.

Kreutzer - Japanese import forms

To be sure, that is a lot of paperwork, but — because I know some of you can read Japanese — I must say that not everything shown is directly related to the emission and noise testing the vehicle has just completed. Still, every slip shown was required, in some way or another, to get it to this point in the process.

Among the forms is a customs import certificate (stamped and approved), the paperwork issued by the city hall in order to obtain the temporary plates (which have a validity of just five days and so must be constantly renewed in person), two separate application forms for the emissions and noise testing (only one of which required extensive research), the slip from the local scrap metal yard where I took the van to be weighed, and 352,000 yen (~$2,900 USD) — most of which got handed over at the testing facility.

Not shown are all the insurance forms I had to fill out, but insurance is a hassle everywhere so that’s no surprise to anyone.

A week prior to the appointment, I faxed all the pertinent documentation to a laboratory ran by the Japanese Automobile Technology Association (JATA) and, a few days later, received a call from their agent.

The good news is that the call went well and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that JATA was quite helpful. The agent spent about 30 minutes with me explaining the process, talking about various issues and assuring me that any information I had left blank on the applications could be completed by the technicians after I arrived.

The call helped to ease my nerves and I felt quite confident as I made the two and a half hour drive to the facility. I arrived a little before my appointment and had a pleasant conversation with the agent before I turned over my keys to the technicians. Then, to my surprise, instead of being dismissed or shuffled off to a waiting room while the testing took place, I was led to the testing bay where I was given a folding chair and allowed to watch the entire process. All told, it took about an hour and a half.

First, the van was put on a lift and its exhaust was inspected to insure that it had not been tampered with. Then it was moved to another bay where it was chained down and put on rollers. After making some plumbing and wiring connections and positioning a powerful fan in front of the vehicle, the technicians started the engine and put the van through its paces.

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It was interesting to watch at first but the wait soon became dull. The technicians ran the car and then stopped for a while. Then they ran it again at a different speed and so on and so on until it became so monotonous that I could no longer feign any interest at all.

After about an hour, I spoke with the agent and asked to leave but he told me that JATA required the owners to stay for the first day of testing because some cars fail and there is no point in holding them over for the second day. If that was the case, I would be given my keys and told to drive it home. The good news is that the Town & Country passed its first day’s test, with the technician telling me that most late model American and European cars pass without much trouble. When they were finally done for the day, the technicians secured the van in a locked storage bay and I went home by train.

The next morning I arrived after an almost three-hour train ride at about 11:00 a.m. Fortunately, JATA’s technicians did the second round of tests, measuring cold-start emissions, prior to my arrival, and all I needed to do was collect the paperwork. After getting my certificate of approval and admiring a brand new Euro-Spec Porsche in the lot (I was asked not to publish any photos of it lest the extremely rich and powerful owner become annoyed), I was then sent across town to the parking lot of a shuttered amusement park for the noise test.

To my eyes, the scene I found upon my arrival looked more like Doc Brown’s experiment from “Back to the Future” than a modern day noise test, but the technicians at work soon convinced me that they were serious researchers in their own right.

After affixing several sensors to the vehicle, one of the techs jumped into the driver’s seat and took a few hot laps around the parking lot. ‘Round and ’round he went, driving it harder than I usually do and jumping on the accelerator every time he ran past a series of measuring devices they had set up. After 15 minutes of this, they returned my van, gave me a thumbs up and told me that my official approval would arrive by special courier sometime tomorrow.

So, that’s it in a nutshell. The Town & Country passed and, once I get my noise test results, I can take it up to the licensing bureau in Yokohama to submit my next round of papers for review prior to mailing off thousands more hard-earned dollars to an agency that covers the cost of car recycling. Once they send me a receipt, then I can go back up to Yokohama and actually bolt on the plates. Then there is a safety inspection, but not the full Shaken, and a few other gates I have to pass through before I am officially legal. I’ll cover these and whatever else pops up in subsequent articles as the process continues.

All totaled, this week’s testing cost me a whopping 328,320 yen, or just over $2,700 USD. Add in $35 for tolls, $22 for round trip train tickets, $6 for a taxi and $6 for temporary plates and you can see that the adventure of the past two days has cost a considerable sum. Of course, I had been warned prior to sending the van that these costs would be incurred and, although I came prepared to pay it, the truth is that prior to actually going through the process, I was a little bitter about it.

Like a lot of Americans, I thought the inspection process was a boondoggle and was intended to keep foreign cars out. My experience, however, has changed my opinion.

Although the experience was expensive, I received excellent, personal service from everyone involved and was surprised to find that entire teams of professionals spent hours working on my case. In addition to the agent who assisted me over the phone and who walked me through the process at the testing center, there were at least four technicians on each of the two teams that tested my vehicle. Add to that the cost of the facility and the testing equipment and I can understand why it costs so much. That, in turn, makes me feel like I received some value for my money and perhaps it wasn’t really a boondoggle after all.

Having completed the process, I can say that the rumors definitely overstated the difficulties I faced Although there probably are companies that would take my money to complete the registration process on my behalf, this first step wasn’t so difficult that I couldn’t figure it out myself.

So, does this sort of testing actively work to keep foreign cars out of Japan? I would say, based on my experience, probably not. There are plenty of foreign cars on the streets here — they must have come from somewhere. All totaled, the testing only added about 10 percent to the purchase price of the Town & Ccountry when it was new. That’s a modest premium, I think. It wouldn’t deter anyone serious about importing a car from actually doing so. Hopefully, as far as my own case is concerned, this proves to be a sound investment over the long term.

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Thomas M. Kreutzer currently lives in Kanagawa, Japan with his wife and three children. He has spent most of his adult life overseas with more than nine years in Japan, two years in Jamaica and almost five years as a U.S. Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. Although originally from Snohomish, WA, he has also lived in several places around the United States including Buffalo, NY and Leavenworth, KS. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast, Kreutzer has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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71 Comments on “Swimming Upstream: Step 1 – Japanese Emissions and Noise Testing...”


  • avatar
    wristtwist

    Looking forward to reading more about the experience of a huge van in Japan!

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      They have big vans there! They ferry about VIPs and other important people who do not want a Century or Celsior. Everyone thinks kei when they think of Japan, and they shouldn’t.

      Nissan Elgrand: http://s1.paultan.org/image/2013/12/nissan-elgrand-review-1.jpg

      Toyota Hi-Ace: http://www.autofocus.ca/media/nnc1r3y8f3datr/atom_featured/09_luxury-Vans-Family-Toyota-HiAce.jpg?t=41272c19c9a486d49dedd4eabdad0873

      Odyssey JDM:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_Odyssey_(international)#/media/File:2008_Honda_Odyssey_01.JPG

    • 0 avatar
      Lack Thereof

      Town and Country vans were sold new in Japan up until just a few years ago! It shouldn’t be too unwieldy for their roads.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Foley

      DAJIBAN!!!

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Think of it this way, Tom (and others):

    All this trouble, travail, and cost – and it was STILL 100% easier than trying to import a car into the US, because he didn’t have to buy three other vans for the government to crash.

    And I bet the Japanese workers at these registration establishments and the port were more friendly than the ones in the US would be.

    • 0 avatar

      While you’re dead on about the regulations being overly protectionist, I didn’t have a single issue when I imported my vehicles three to the U.S. Everyone was incredibly friendly, though some of the places I had to visit for inspections were pretty sketchy. Also, the U.S. has an insane focus on recall paperwork.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Were the vehicles that could have been purchased in the US? It also depends on the state. Michigan will title just about anything. In Florida, you can buy a gun while you register a vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Also that – if you’re just bringing over similar models to what’s sold here and can prove they’re the same (like an Acura EL is a Civic, etc) then it’s not hard.

        If you’ve got a 2002 Peugeot, that’s a different story entirely, and they’d tell you to shove it.

        If you tried to bring in a Nissan X-Trail, they’d also tell you to sod off.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      The Japanese Tom’s dealing with may be polite face to face, but they’re probably thinking “take this yank tank home, Gaijin kusai yo ne, bata kusai.”

      That’s how many Japanese are. It’s just a cultural reality. They don’t think it’s abnormal, but most Americans and westerners would fairly describe them as “two faced.”

      I also think what Tom is being forced to do, in terms of costs and red tape, is insane. The bulk of these tests, from a cost and significance perspective, are either unnecessary at worst, and at best, redundant.

      Japanese culture is bizarrely brutal in some ways (deep-seeded cultural, societal, historical ways), while being polite to the extreme in other ways (mostly superficial ways).

      I base this on having a cousin who taught English in Japan at university level for over a decade, and who has a husband who works in Japan for Boeing.

      I also say this knowing/believing that the Japanese culture has many extremely positive traits, along with a few negative ones. I admire many traits of the Japanese people while keeping one eye vigilant, knowing full well that they could turn, like a rabid pit pull, back into savages who cut downed pilots heads off or rape foreign women and keep them as sex slaves as a matter of formal policy in a time of war or crisis.

      There is and will always be a basic, cold, brutal, heartless, dispassionate, and at times, monstrous quality running innate within the Japanese, ready to reveal itself at any opportunistic moment. This can’t be fundamentally altered or permanently removed from their souls.

      However, one of their many positive traits, collectively, is to learn, practice and hone technical skills that manifest themselves in being able to produce quality goods, be they optics, motor vehicles or cutlery.

      This fact was recently reinforced when I drove an essentially new Cadillac ATS rental with less than 6,500 miles on the odometer that was already in a state of rapid mechanical and physical disintegration that left me in a state of disgust, and feeling shame for American products.

      I was very happy to return home and get back into my Japanese (Hiroshima, to be precise) produced vehicle, having 112,000 miles, of much higher quality, precision and durability/reliability.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Oh we know about that, your Cadillac rental experience was the shot heard ’round the world.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          I should hasten to add that my uncle’s 2014 Cadillac CTS 3.6 (bought against my firm warnings) has already suffered 2 major and 1 less significant mechanical failures in just under 2 years and 23,000 miles of driving (it’s a good thing he didn’t end up with a 4 banger, turbo version, for the results could have been even worse, as they’re sharting pistons and valves faster than Andrew Zimmern after a really unsanitary El Salvadoran street meal).

          It’s amusing (in an admitted sadistic way) to peruse cadillacforums.com and read about the problems suffered by the poor saps who bought one of the gen Cadillacs thinking that the $$$ they were spending would correlate positively with a quality, reliable, durable and well made vehicle. I must confess that I genuinely feel sorry for many of these people, despite their lack of due diligence, research and overall (implicit) ignorance, however – this is especially true once they get to the point of considering dumping their relatively new Cadillacs, and they discover the leaden depreciation curves their vehicles suffer under.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Its almost as if you don’t like Cadillacs? Say it ain’t so.

            Granted I haven’t seen a “Cadillac” in a long time sold at a Cadillac dealership but of course, details, details.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Follow me down the rabbit hole & trip balls watching the Cadillac DTS Club of Japan rolling dirty in their Northstar-powered cruisers:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXkA-YUp3k8

            DTS was plush enough, large/roomy (back seat and trunk) enough, snorty (in a good way) enough, and proper enough for a respectable Yakuza, unlike faux-BMW ATS toy cars and CTSs (or rebadged LaCrosses aka XTSs).

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            The soundtrack was certainly an interesting choice.

            Additional: If you have never seen Black Rain with Michael Douglas (1989) I highly recommend it. The Yakuza choices of transportation are certainly interesting.

      • 0 avatar

        You have interesting viewpoints and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter. But that’s all I can do as I am married to a Japanese woman and, frankly, hearing the truth might upset her.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    Excellent writeup and explanation of the process; this is a very entertaining read.

    Your comment on the costs reminds me I need to finalize a few of my Amazon.jp orders; 120 yen to the dollar is a number I haven’t enjoyed since the late 90s and some seriously ruinous spending sprees.

    In some cases what are perceived as obstacles are occasionally misunderstandings in communication; when the inspector at the docks bars your shipment of lumber from leaving due to the vehicle violating maximum truck width laws, simply go to your cargo with a mallet and knock that errant 2×4 back into the stack, then have them recheck its dimensions.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, it seems incredibly pointless – surely just the safety inspection and whatever emissions test is normally required would be sufficient? On the other hand, as long as it passes these reasonably clearly defined tests, you can evidently self-import anything you want into Japan. Which you sure as heck cannot do in any reasonable way into the United States!

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      The noise thing sounded a little questionable. Gunning it around a test loop would vary depending on driver mood and if they liked what you had brought them to test.

      • 0 avatar

        It didn’t help that the test was conducted near Yokota Air Force Base and there was a C-130 circling over head at about 1000 feet the entire time. Seriously, the noise part was a mystery to me, my neighbor has a 125cc scooter that makes more noise than this van.

  • avatar
    sproc

    A little sad to see that stacks of Yen still rule over there. I’ve had Japanese friends tell me that bringing suitcases of bills to home closings is not uncommon. How one of the most advanced countries on Earth still doesn’t really trust electronic payments is amazing.

    Question: Does this extensive testing only certify a single vehicle? If someone else wanted to import an identical, unmodified T&C would any of the documentation be considered complete already?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Show me where state and local government in the US accept cards.

      • 0 avatar
        Mike N.

        Just about everywhere here in Texas. You can even do a lot of stuff online (like registrations). Sure, they’ll charge you a small percentage or a buck or two to cover the card processing costs. Lots of online services do ACH too, which has no added fees. Heck, you can even pay the parking meters in most large Texas cities with an app and a card.

      • 0 avatar
        rocketrodeo

        Virginia DMV, for one. “Credit or debit?”

      • 0 avatar
        Exfordtech

        MassDOT RMV will take credit/debit for license transactions (simple renewal) but everything else is cash/check/money order. My hometown will take on line payments for property taxes, dog license, excise taxes, etc. I don’t understand why it isn’t universal.

        • 0 avatar
          derekson

          This is not true. I paid via credit card when I transferred my license from out of state back to an MA license earlier this year. And I did my registration via credit card as well.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        I pay lots of gov’t payments with credit cards. I pay my state professional, driver’s and vehicle licenses with a credit card. I also pay water bills to a city gov’t with a credit card. So yeah state and local governments in the US do accept credit cards.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        No problem in Maine, though some towns charge a fee for credit cards to cover the merchant fee if you are there in person. no fee if you do it online through the state website, and you save a couple bucks on the agent fee vs doing it at town hall. Debit cards are free regardless.

      • 0 avatar
        djsyndrome

        I have lived in Washington State for three years. Obtaining two new driver licenses, paying numerous tolls and a speeding ticket, registering two cars here and buying a third one, and licensing two cats – and I have never paid with anything /but/ a card.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Illinois “Driver Services” takes credit cards for driver’s license and registration renewals.

        I’ve been able to do that online as long as I’ve lived here, even if the site looks like something out of the 1990s.

      • 0 avatar
        sproc

        As others have pointed out, for years I’ve electronically paid federal taxes, several different state taxes, and even municipal taxes, as well as DMV fees, permits and professional licensure fees in multiple jurisdictions. A few don’t even accept cash at certain locations or for certain services.

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        Indiana BMV for sure. Although they don’t take Discover, just MC and Visa.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I can’t remember the last time I had an interaction with the gummint where cards weren’t accepted. District of Columbia, California, and Washington included.

      • 0 avatar
        Lack Thereof

        Most (but not all) agencies in Washington State accept Visa/MC.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        Minnesota takes plastic for licenses and other routine things.

  • avatar
    319583076

    While I appreciate your sentiment regarding perceived value, I take some exception to it. It seems as though you feel the money bought you something because you witnessed the labor, overhead, and other costs associated with the testing. However, I would argue that objectively, this process is still a boondoggle unless it demonstrably improves the quality of life for Japanese residents, i.e. – through lower exposure to auto emissions and noise. Of course, a rigorous analysis would convert any measured or perceived improvement in QOL to dollars (yen) which when compared to the cost of testing (including your time) would more or less definitively settle the question.

    • 0 avatar
      djsyndrome

      Try doing the reverse – importing a Japanese car that’s a few years old into the US – and let us all know how that works out for you.

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      Yup, it is still boondoggle because those “service” has “values” that is meaningless. If they keep a record of previous test result and let you through once the first vehicle is tested, then it would be much more reasonable. But of course this means importer can foot the bill for one vehicle then import 10000 to compete with the JDM.

      In the US, you can still import a car as “kit” and then assemble it back.

      • 0 avatar
        TonyJZX

        I’ve had some weird experiences with fed and state depts. when importing cars.

        Some will only take electric funds transfer or a check but NO credit or no cash. Some cited cash handling issues or the preponderence for using cash as a bribe so they wanted an electronic paper trail. Some didnt want to pay merchant fees for credit etc.

        Also I expect this Japanese certification is no different from any western nation heavy on the bureacracy. I remember driving $50 to $100k cars to a junkyard to get a $20 weight certificate too!

        Where I am they expect a car to be compliant with the noise and emissions of the year of manufacture so they bypass all that for any classic car, of which a ‘classic car’ can be a 2002 Skyline R34 GTR… also I found our govt. engineers to be reasonable lenient on cars that have no hope of meeting emissions… if you made a reasonable effort to get compliance and yet the car is 1.5 or maybe 2x the std. of the day, they will pass you, as long as you’re not a Volkswagen (I kid!).

  • avatar
    Rday

    Taking a POS chrysler product to Japan is akin to carrying coal to newcastle. Not very bright imo. And whatever bureaucratic nightmare that you get stuck in is your own fault. Some people never get it!

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    I wonder if people would have had trouble getting through this process to import a VW diesel prior to all the drama?

  • avatar
    Toad

    More power to the author for taking on this challenge, but it seems like a lot of work for questionable payoff: the cost to ship the van both ways, the inspection fees (not to mention what happens if the vehicle had failed?)and general hassle for the privilege of driving a T&C around Japan. It sounds like the equivalent of jumping through a lot of hoops to open an Olive Garden restaurant in Italy.

    Leasing a Kei van sounds more practical, kind of fun, and in the spirit of “When in Rome…” But the article is definitely interesting.

    • 0 avatar
      djsyndrome

      “Leasing a Kei van sounds more practical”

      Right up until someone in a larger vehicle broadsides you.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        Not all of us live with irrational fear of vanishingly small risks – even if they are potentially catastrophic.

        • 0 avatar

          I live with that fear. I’ve seen enough photos of Kei cars torn open like tin cans to ever want one.

          • 0 avatar
            319583076

            I understand, but you pay for it. Cass Sunstein calls this “probability neglect” – the idea is that many people would rather pay a fixed amount to avoid a small probability outcome with potentially catastrophic consequences, even if the expected cost of the fixed amount is greater than the expected cost of the small probability event.

            It is an inefficiency exploited by some for profit at the expense of many.

    • 0 avatar
      awagliar

      “It sounds like the equivalent of jumping through a lot of hoops to open an Olive Garden restaurant in Italy.”

      What a curiously-timed example: Domino’s Pizza just opened its first franchise in Italy (Milan) today.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      There’s a lot of space in between a giant T&C and a kei van. In Tom’s shoes I would have sold the van, not paid ~$5000 in shipping and government costs, and applied the van sales price plus the $5000 to some kind of compact wagon/MPV thing that would shave 2-3 feet in length and 8 inches of width off the T&C dimensions.

    • 0 avatar
      Lack Thereof

      Well, his previous post mentioned that the van was newly purchased before the move to Japan. So selling it back home would have meant eating a massive depreciation hit, roughly equal to the cost of the import.

      So he could lose $5000 selling his nearly-new minivan on the American market, and then attempt to navigate new-car purchasing at the same time he’s getting settled and established in a foreign country, or he could just spend the same $5000 getting the van imported, and then be able to drive a vehicle he already shopped for, likes, and is familiar with.

      Also, LHD vehicles still hold a certain cachet in Japan for some reason. When he leaves the country, assuming it is still in good shape, he’ll probably be able to sell it for more than he would in the US.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “I received excellent, personal service from everyone involved and was surprised to find that entire teams of professionals spent hours working on my case.”

    That’s a lot of drama for not much result. Is anyone honestly expecting a stock minivan that complies with EPA standards to be too loud or dirty to comply with Japanese standards?

    In any case, those people didn’t make the rules. Those who did make the rules made it difficult for a reason.

    There is a reason why large numbers of perfectly good used Japanese cars get shipped from Japan. The shaken helps to support the local new car industry.

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      Yeah, what they call “shaken” is properly known as “collusion.”

      The government and the car industry work together to move metal. The government imposes heavy taxes on cars that only get heavier as the cars age, which eventually gets all but the car enthusiasts out of their old vehicles and into new metal, which the manufacturers are only too happy to sell, at high prices, to the motoring public.

      Apparently, it’s not “corruption,” it’s “just how things get done.”

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Weimer

        There’s a small cottage industry of folks rescuing perfectly running older cars in Japan and selling them to Military members, who don’t have to pay all of the taxes. It takes a bit of work to retitle them, but virtually free to obtain so it can be quite lucrative.

        I knew a guy who got his car free from his neighbor because it would have cost the neighbor to junk it at a yard. All he had to do was go through the hoops to register it.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “All totaled, this week’s testing cost me a whopping 328,320 yen, or just over $2,700 USD”

    Do all vehicles cost as much to register?

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      IIRC, about 10 years ago my used JDM Toyota Corona cost about $350 to fully re-inspect and renew the registration. I think it was a two year periodicity, although the inspection followed the car (it didn’t have to get re-inspected with a new owner, just when it expired). I could have hired someone to do it for me, but it was actually an interesting adventure to do it yourself. The DMV complex of buildings in Yokohama he refers to is pretty impressive.

    • 0 avatar

      No and the registration hasn’t happened yet, this was just the test required to get me to the stage where I can register it. At some point I will have to pay a bunch of money for a recycle fee, although I understand that I will get that back when I export it, and then road taxes.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    It seems like the Japanese just enjoy making everything a giant pain in the ass.

    From what I understand, Japanese culture, especially as it relates to officialdom, makes everything inscrutable, expensive and YOUR FAULT if you miss some petty subtlety or detail that they just expect everyone to know about.

    I read once that their standard for car accidents is that since everyone is an “expert” driver, there’s no such thing as an “accident” – only a situation where a driver “allowed” a crash to occur.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      GM had that same policy internally with company cars. Wrecks were termed “crashes” never accidents.

    • 0 avatar

      Japan is a complicated place with a lot of rules, but in my experience most people in the bureaucracy here are quite helpful and the experience I had at JATA is par for the course.

      As for “professional drivers” there are three classes of licenses. When you get your first license, it has a green stripe that marks you as a new driver. You are also required to show a green and yellow sticker on your car for at least a year so other drivers know you are inexperienced. These limit your liability in a crash.

      The second tier license has a blue stripe and the highest teir, which you get after a number of years without an accident or a moving violation has a gold license. The holder of a gold license gets discounts on insurance, etc, but is held to the highest standards. As a “professional driver” they are expected to have strong defensive driving skills.

      Most accidents, as I understand it, have some sort of shared responsibility. It may be a ratio, like 80/20 at fault with the person who caused the accident assuming the lion’s share of the responsibility while the victim picks up a part of the charges based on the police crash investigation team’s assessment of how they might have prevented the accident. The net is that some people end up paying money for an accident they didn’t cause but, overall, society benefits because you don’t have ambulance chasers and shady mechanics running up the cost of accidents so insurance is generally more affordable.

      I’m not saying it is the be-all-end-all solution, that’s just the way I understand it.

      • 0 avatar
        ccode81

        The problem is insurance company holds a book of what is the residual value of car, decided by the car’ age.
        Upon accident they will not allow to spend more money on repair above the book value and forced to take the money.
        Even In case it is Ferrari 250 GTO, it will only taken as old car used up.. Sigh

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I find it all very interesting .

    That small amount of paper work is nothing compared to many I registered in the U.S. of A. .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    RHD

    This process makes for interesting reading and is certainly educational.
    But I have to ask – do they have Uber in Japan?

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    I am late to the party so I hope Tom or one of the editors sees this. Are there diesel Volkswagons in Japan? If there are, did their expensive and exhaustive testing regimen not catch them cheating?

    • 0 avatar

      Hi, I live in Japan and checked for VW vans here lately. I have not seen any Diesels on offer. VW sells mostly small cars here in Japan. The biggest van on offer is the New Sharan, which is only sold with the 1.4L TSI petrol engine with DSG gear box.

    • 0 avatar

      No, VW does not sell and diesels in Japan and so far as I know hasn’t for at least a decade, possibly longer.

      I think it was back in the ’90s or possibly the early 2000s that some of the major cities, Tokyo and Osaka among them, banned the sales of any new non-commercial diesels because of problems with the particulates. I might be wrong but other than a few larger passenger vans and trucks, diesels really aren’t common in the passenger market here any more.

  • avatar
    samjaza78

    Did they do a tailpipe or an OBD output test?
    Planning to transfer up there and I am also overly fond of the car. Do you mind fielding my questions on the process?

    • 0 avatar

      So far as I know it was all through the tailpipe. I didn’t get around to the other side where they were working. There were also wires that they connected to something under the hood. That’s about all I can tell you, really.

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