Resale Bans in Japan

by on February 23, 2006 at 7:07 am in Economics | Permalink

According to this post the Japanese have a very strict system of auto inspection:   

The first ones to talk to the government about this were the car manufacturers,
and they convinced the government to enforce a rule that used cars have to go to
the technical inspection after 3 years, and this is a costly matter since a
check costs between 1500 and 3500 EUR. Once you’re in the system, you have to
get your car checked every 2 years, and once your car is 10 years old, you need
to go there every year. This is a reson why the Japanese change cars quite fast,
usually before the car is 3 years old. Important aspect is that you have no
control whatsoever on the cost of possible repairs, because after the technical
check, the car is driven to the garage and they do the repairs that the
technical check asked them to do, you just get the bill with your car. A very
nice rip-off… and this system is being envied by a lot of other domains, like
the electronics domain at this moment. So from April 1st 2006, ALL electronic
products sold in Japan before 2001 will be prohibited from the 2nd hand market!

Comments are open if you have more information on these interesting policies.  I guarantee there is a dissertation or two here.  Here is my previous post on state car "safety" programs.

Thanks to Boing Boing Blog for the link.

Addendum: An informed reader noted that the post is incorrect about electronic products being banned, major appliances will have to be inspected something like autos but the inspection doesn’t apply to computers. 

1 Tadhgin February 23, 2006 at 9:07 am

You can’t mention the Japanese auto inspection without also commenting on the export of second hand cars from Japan to the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand (all of which drive on the left). What I’d really be interested in is the extent to which strict import rules in India block off what would be the most obvious market for “inferior” japanese used cars.

2 Huggy February 23, 2006 at 9:51 am

Obviously these are meant to increase consumption. An “indirect approach”. Indirect approaches have become so universal that I think they are losing their effectiveness. Lets have a bloody frontal charge to clear the air.

3 Robert Schwartz February 23, 2006 at 12:40 pm

Interesting question. Japanese Cars have a reputation in the US for reliability and longevity. Why would their manufacturers have had an incentive to develop this reputation, when it would seem to have been irrelevant in their home market and not necessary to compete in the US, where the car companies built their cars out of compressed rust?

4 Cb February 23, 2006 at 2:00 pm

I lived and drove in Japan for three years and found the driving
regulations simply surreal. If you think inspections are an incentive
not to drive you should experience the speed limits. Most major roads
in Japan have a 60 kph (~38mph) speed limit roads connecting smaller towns
can be even lower 40-50kph (24-31 mph)! Local authorities are
terrified that new roadways might bypass local businesses so highways
often twist and turn to intentionaly pass through the center of cities.
The town I lived in was only 200 kilometers (120 miles) from Tokyo but
the only time I drove to Tokyo on a standard highway (Route 4) it took
more than 4 hours at night when there was NO TRAFFIC! The alternative are
a limited number of pay tollways, equivalent to Interstates in the U.S.
These toll-ways have 100 kph (62 mph) speed limits and generally straight
paths but are few in number and expensive. Why are they so uncommon?
Generally they are elevated at all times, it often does not seem to matter
a whit whether the tollway is built in a city of 2 million people or in a
rice field the damn things are inevitably 20-40 feet above the surrounding
landscape! One study I saw while in Japan suggested that average direct
cost for tollways was about $850,000 per foot! Now that I am back in the
U.S. I find it difficult not to laugh whenever I hear people complain
about how inefficient our government is!

5 Errol February 23, 2006 at 6:49 pm

Not having any sort of local car industry to protect, New Zealand has been most aggressive in allowing the import of second-hand cars from Japan.

Well we used to have a protected car assembly industry, which went when markets were opened back in the 90’s. For some bizarre reason imported used vehicles didn’t until recently have to meet the same safety standards as new ones.

6 Tyler Herin February 23, 2006 at 9:20 pm

You also must see the resale market in Peru and Bolivia, countries where they DO NOT use right drive cars. The conversions that you see are incredible. In many cities, the majority of taxis are these types of imports, nothing on the dashboard works and it is all usually covered by a large piece of carpet to hide the hack job that was done in the conversion.

7 MTC February 27, 2006 at 5:12 am

According to Article 58 of the Doro Unso Sharyo Ho (Law Concerning Roads, Transport and Wheeled Vehicles), no vehicle can operate in Japan without proof of a sharyo kensa (wheeled vehicle inspection), or shaken, for short. The shaken is conducted by government-approved mechanic, who recommends repairs and replacements of parts. The judgment of the mechanic is final; there is no recourse to question his assessment.

One cannot receive a license plate unless the vehicle is has a shaken registry on file at the Ministry of Land, Inftrastructure and Transport. For a passenger vehicle, a shaken is conducted for the first time three years after registration, then every other year until the car is ten (10) years old. After that, it is conducted annually. Only rich hobbyists are willing to accept or can afford an annual shaken for their vehicles.

The Shakoho (Law on Garaging) forbids aozora chusha (blue sky parking), meaning a) street parking of a vehicle for more than 12 hours, and/or b) street parking of a vehicle after 8 p.m. One has to prove one has a parking spot on one’s property or on a licensed lot before one can register one’s vehicle.

More information on automobile registration in Japan can be found at:

(just click on the arrows at the bottom to proceed to the next page)

Some consequences of the registration laws:

1) Zero internal resale value for cars 10 years or older (all are exported either to Russia, Southeast Asia or Dubai).
2) A national fleet of vehicles with universally low emissions.
3) No streetside vehicle abandonment or instances of people living in their cars.
4) No scenes in movies of undercover police officers sitting in cars waiting for the perps to leave the apartment.

8 MTC February 28, 2006 at 12:51 am

CJC above is correct; the dumping of vehicles over the sides or off the ends of rural roads is fairly common Depressingly so.

The disposal fees for electronics are highly variable, from a few hundred yen to several thousand. Adjacent munipalities can charge significantly different rates. Disposal of large electronics is by telephone appointment through the local municipal government–so it is difficult to arbitrage disposal charges. In theory, a friend in a low-cost municipality could save you a few thousand yen by letting you dump your electronics in front of his house for a pickup he has arranged with his local government office.

No one would ever do this, however.

9 solyak1 March 15, 2006 at 7:08 am
10 José Campos June 9, 2006 at 3:39 pm

Dear Sirs.

I am looking for used left hand drive vehicles in Dubai. Please, have you got some available? I’d like to send to you specifications about what kind I need.

José Campos

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I am a used car and parts dealer in United States who is interested in exporting to Dubai.Someone in Dubai currently in this kind of business should e-mail me with marketing details.

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