Sat, Sep 15, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Japan gives green light to licenses

HITTING THE ROAD Taiwanese drivers will be allowed to drive in Japan as long as they have a Japanese translation of their driving license

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

Holders of a Taiwanese driver's license will soon be able to legally drive in Japan, Vice Foreign Minister Yang Tzu-pao (楊子葆) said yesterday.

Yang made the announcement at a news conference ahead of the implementation of an agreement between the two countries on the reciprocal recognition of driver's licenses.

The news conference was jointly called by Yang and Koichi Ito, director of General Affairs under the Japan Interchange Association's Taipei Office, as well as officials from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC).

The Japanese Cabinet on Aug. 16 approved an amendment to its traffic laws that recognizes Taiwanese driver's licenses.

As a reciprocal measure, the MOTC is scheduled to unveil a new provision next Wednesday to the highway traffic safety regulations that will provide a legal basis for reciprocal recognition of driver's licenses with other countries.

Under the agreement, Yang said, holders of Taiwanese driver's licenses will be allowed to drive in Japan as long as they possess a Japanese translation of the license.

Japanese motorists will also be able to drive in Taiwan using using a Chinese translation of their Japanese driver's licenses, he added.

Taiwanese motorists will be able to obtain a Japanese translation of their Taiwanese license from the Driver License Registration offices in Taipei or Kaohsiung or from Taiwan's representative offices in Japan, Yang said, adding that the Japanese versions would be valid for one year.

Meanwhile, Yang and MOTC officials reminded Taiwanese motorists that international driver's licenses issued in Taiwan could not be used in Japan.

They also reminded motorists that cars drive on the left side of the road in Japan and have the driver's seat and steering wheel on the right.

The measure adopted by the Japanese government last month followed its granting of 90-day visa-free treatment to Taiwanese tourists in September 2005.

Travel service operators in the Japanese prefecture of Hokkaido were instrumental in persuading the Japanese government to recognize Taiwanese driver's licenses, as Taiwan is one of the main sources of foreign tourists to the prefecture.

Official Japanese statistics show that approximately 300,000 Taiwanese tourists visit Hokkaido annually.

Taiwanese tourists made a total of more than 1.3 million visits to Japan last year, ranking behind only South Korean tourists, who made a total of 2.1 million visits.

The MOTC is expected to announce details on Friday about the implementation of a measure granting reciprocal recognition of driver's licenses with other countries.

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