Vehicle registration plates of Japan
In Japan, the national government issues vehicle registration plates for motor vehicles through the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Land Transportation Offices nationwide. However, the local municipality rather than the national government registers certain vehicles with small engine displacements. Broadly speaking, passenger automobiles with engine displacements at or smaller than 2000 cc receive 5-series plates, while passenger automobiles with engine displacements larger than 2000 cc or more receive 3-series license plates. The number on the top line begins with a "0" through "9" to indicate the series, followed by additional numbers for specific vehicle classification. Additional criteria includes a numerical representation signifying length, width and height of the vehicle. Official vehicles of the Imperial household are exempt from the requirement to display such plates. Official vehicles of the Self-Defense Forces, foreign diplomats, and the U.S. military are required to display other plates.
The plates are installed in both the front and rear of the vehicle, with the rear plate permanently attached to the vehicle with a prefecture seal completely covering one of the attaching plate bolts. The plate is only removed when the vehicle has reached the end of service and has been sold for scrap. New vehicles are not delivered to the purchaser until the plates have been attached at the dealership.
Since November 1, 1970, a "jiko-shiki" (字光式) plate has been offered for private vehicles at the owner's request. The green characters on this type of plate are replaced with molded green plastic that can be illuminated from behind the plate. From May 19, 1998, specific numbers can also be requested if the numbers are not already in use. From 2010, these are also available in blue.
|Class||Engine (cc displacement)||Plate color||Text color||Plate dimensions|
|Private vehicle||>660||White||Green||Medium or large|
|Commercial vehicle||>660||Green||White||Medium or large|
|Lightweight private (kei car)||<660||Yellow||Black||Medium|
|Microcar||0–49||Sky Blue*||Blue||Extra small|
|2 wheel||0–49||White*||Blue||Extra small|
|2 wheel||50–89||Yellow*||Blue||Extra small|
|2 wheel||90–124||Pink*||Blue||Extra small|
|2 wheel||≥250||White, green border||Green||Small|
* These plates are issued by municipal governments.
- 44x22 cm (17.3x8.7 inch)
- (for over 8 tons vehicle, or capacity of 30 people or more)
- 33x16.5 cm (13x6.5 inch)
- 23x12.5 cm (9x4.9 inch)
- Extra small
- about 20x10 cm (7.8x3.9 inch)
- (differs according to each municipality)
Until 31 December 1974, kei cars had small green and white license plates. After this date, they received medium plates, now in black and yellow to distinguish them from regular cars.
|Private vehicles||Commercial vehicles|
|Compact or Large vehicles and motorbikes (displacements <250 cm³)|
|2-wheeled vehicle =>250 cm³|
Please note that, to avoid any claims of invasion of privacy, the artist of these pictures has deliberately selected an invalid combination of characters.
The illustration shows what a plate might look like. The top line contains the name of the issuing office (Tama, shown, is in Tokyo) and a vehicle class code. The bottom line contains a hiragana character and a four-digit serial number divided into two groups of two digits separated by a hyphen. Any leading zeros are replaced by centered dots.
White plates can have the following hiragana:
and for rental vehicles
Green plates can have the following hiragana:
A license plate in Japan thus follows this format: KK?*H##-## (e.g., 足立500き21-41), where KK is the name of the issuing office in kanji, H is a hiragana, ? is a 5 for vehicles less than 2000 cc and a 3 for vehicles greater than 2000 cc (other numbers are less common—1 for large trucks, 2 for buses, etc.), * is a number from 0 to 99 (pre-1971 license plates will omit this), and # is a number from 0* to 9 (*leading zeros are replaced by centered dots).
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The license plate is the right of the name "classification number" 1 called - the three-digit number is displayed at the top of the plate. The car uses roughly one-digit number on the classification (either large special cargo special-purpose passenger) and size (small or normal) are seen. If a three digit number you can see whether the desired number plate explained.
Classification Number Categories
- 1,10 - 19,100 - 198: average truck
Use of those goods for ordinary vehicles. For ordinary vehicles, vehicle size or width of 1,700 mm, 4,700 mm in length or height of 2,000 mm meet one or more (as well as numbers below 2.3.) There is a large plate. Ōita: cargo (maximum payload or gross vehicle weight of more than 8t 5t or more) (maximum load 6,500 kg, gross vehicle weight of up to 11,000 kg vehicle ○, otherwise ◎) Intermediate plate: normal cargo (over 2,000 cc engine capacity) (gross vehicle weight of 5,000 kg, 3,000 kg maximum load capacity exceeds vehicle (medium car) are ○, however gross vehicle weight 8,000 kg, 5,000 kg maximum load the vehicle up mid-size car (8t) Limited (usually old) driving license accepted)
- 2.20 - 29,200 - 298: Mini vans normally
Seating capacity is 11 or more in passenger cars of the normal. There is a large plate. Ōita: large buses (gross vehicle weight 8,000 kg Seating capacity over 30 or over) ◎ Intermediate plate: micro (less than 11 Seating capacity 29) ○
- 3,30 - 39,300 - 398: Passenger Cars
The following are riding in the passenger capacity of 10 persons of ordinary vehicles. The 2,000 cc engine capacity above. There are no large plates.
- 4,40 - 49,400 - 479: mini truck
Use one of the small car of the freight. Less than 2,000 cc engine capacity. For a small car, the size of the body width is less than 1,700 mm, 4,700 mm in length than the height of less than 2,000 mm to satisfy all (as well as No. 5 below).
- 5.50 - 59,500 - 579: small passenger car
Among those riding small car. Capacity does not matter. Less than 2,000 cc engine capacity.
- 6,60 - 69,600 - 679: small truck
The previous two-digit classification number three-wheeled cargo. Present "4" as. Because of the current three-digit "4" is not registered to fill, number only hope. Is not paying out so far, the sequence number of the desired numbers, might appear to future ("seven" also.)
- 7,70 - 79,700 - 779: small passenger car
Before riding three-wheeled two-digit classification number. Now "5" as. Because of the current three-digit "5" is not registered to fill, number only hope. Currently 2010 numbers in the sequence number Omiya Osaka, Kobe, popular (and 11-22) have already appeared in the.
- 8,80 - 89,800 - 879: special-purpose vehicle
Stipulated by law, vehicles used to scoop purposes. Both present compact car for ordinary vehicles. There is a large plate. Ōita: maximum load capacity of at least 5t, 8t gross vehicle weight of more than one vehicle meets Seating capacity of 30 or more (must meet licensing conditions of medium or large vehicle license required) Large special license. During board: cars meet the above requirements
- 9,90 - 99,900 - 998: large special vehicles
Stipulated by law, vehicles with special structure. The special license required to drive large. The size of the vehicle width over 1,700 mm, 4,700 mm in length or height meets one of the more than 2,800 mm.
- 0,00 - 09,000 - 098: Construction Equipment
Among large special vehicles, which are provided in the proviso to Article 2 car mortgage. ※ There are no restrictions on diesel emissions. Driving qualifications, ◎ license is large, ○ medium requires a drivers license.
Special use plates
Vehicles owned by personnel with the United States military in Japan under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) have a "Y" on white plates, or an "A" on yellow plates, where the hiragana character is normally displayed. Earlier versions of the SOFA license plate displayed the letters "K", "M", "G", "H" and "E". These letters indicated the car was imported into Japan under SOFA and was left-hand drive. Since the 1980s, servicemembers assigned to Japan have been discouraged from shipping their vehicles from the U.S. into the country. Many opt to purchase second-hand domestic vehicles through used car dealers off-base, and from other servicemembers departing Japan at on-base "lemon lots".
Out of country plates
Because the Japanese writing system, particularly the kana, is unique to Japan, standard-issue Japanese license plates are considered unacceptable for international travel. If a motorist wishes to bring their vehicle with them while traveling abroad, the Ministry of Transport will issue to them a plate with the hiragana and kanji scripts replaced with roman letters. The hiragana prefix is replaced by a Kunrei-shiki romanization of that character. The kanji prefecture/office code is replaced by a two- or three-letter abbreviation, the first two letters representing the prefecture, the third (if present) representing the office within the prefecture. All the numerical portions of the plate remain the same.
Using the example given above, the plate (足立500き21-41) would then read TKA 500 KI 21-41 (TKA for Tokyo Adachi).
Transportation offices and markings
In 2006, several new location names, known as Gotōchi (ご当地?, local place) numbers, were approved by the MLIT for places that wanted to increase their recognition for purposes such as tourism. Criteria included the need for 100,000 vehicles in the area and the avoidance of an imbalance in the prefecture. The new locations began appearing in 2006 on plates for vehicles registered in certain specific cities, towns and villages in or near the places marked below in green.
|Issuing office||Marking||Former markings|
|Ibaraki||Mito||水戸||Mito||IGM||茨城 (IGI), 茨 (IG)|
|Saitama||大宮||Ōmiya||STO||埼玉 (STS), 埼 (ST)|
|Utsunomiya||宇都宮||Utsunomiya||TGU||栃木 (TGT), 栃 (TG)|
- Vehicle Code System since 1962 - Japanese License Plates.
- http://www.licenseplatemania.com/landenpaginas/japan.htm Graphic Definition of Japanese License plates
- How to Purchase and Register a Vehicle, Web site of the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62).
- "Motor Vehicle Registration System of Japan". 2004-03-27. Retrieved 2007-01-24.
- "Internet Wayback Machine Archive of "How to Purchase and Register a Vehicle" from the USS Fitzgerald website". 2008-07-15. Retrieved 2012-01-14.