License plate (Japan)

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In Japan, license plates are issued by the regional offices of the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport . However, special vehicles with low engine power get their approval from the municipal administration instead of the central administration. As a rule of thumb, cars with a displacement of less than 2000 cubic centimeters receive number plates from group 5, i.e. the upper code number begins with the number 5, while gasoline-powered cars with a displacement of more than 2000 cc receive number plates from group 3 (e.g. 330). Further criteria for the selection of the license plate are the dimensions of the vehicle. Different license plate rules apply to official vehicles of the Imperial Court Office , the Self-Defense Forces , foreign diplomats and the US military stationed in Japan .


Regular license plates

The license plates are issued in three different sizes, depending on the vehicle type. These are:

  • Large: 220mm × 440mm (for trucks and buses)
  • Medium: 165mm × 330mm (common size for most vehicles)
  • Small 125mm × 230mm (for certain small vehicles and motorcycles)
Color combinations used
Used privately Used commercially
Normal vehicles and two-wheeled vehicles (cubic capacity <250 cm³) Japanese green on white license plate.png Japanese white on green license plate.png
Light vehicles Japanese black on yellow license plate.png Japanese yellow on black license plate.png

In order to prevent the license plates from being “repainted”, different letter areas are used for the signs. The following hiragana are used in detail :

  • White license plates:
    さ す せ そ た ち つ て と な に ぬ ね の は ひ ふ ​​ほ ま ま み む め も や ゆ よ ら り る ろ
  • Rental car: れ わ
  • Green marks: あ い う え か き く け こ を
  • Private cars for workers in United States Forces Japan: Y, E, A

Vehicle codes

The table lists the vehicle types used on the license plate since 1998:

code Vehicle type Technical exam
000 Construction vehicles every two years
1.. Trucks with a displacement of more than 2000 cc every two years
2 .. minibus yearly
3 .. Cars with a displacement of more than 2000 cm³ every two years (taxis: annually)
4 .. Trucks and small trucks with a displacement of between 660 and 2000 cm³ every two years
5 .. Cars with a displacement of between 660 and 2000 cm³ every two years (taxis: annually)
7 .. Cars with a displacement over 2000 cm³ or wider than 1.70 m
77 to 79 Cars with a cubic capacity of between 660 and 2000 cm³ (only issued by a few prefectures) every two years (taxis: annually)
800 Special vehicles with a displacement of more than 660 cm³ (e.g. fire brigade, police, tanker or garbage trucks, but also converted vehicles such as broadcast vehicles) yearly
900 Tractor and work vehicles every two years

The license plates shown give the impression of what a license plate of Tama ( 多 摩 near Tokyo) would look like. It contains the vehicle code (500), a hiragana symbol in the lower part and the four-digit license number, which is divided into two parts by a hyphen (here: 12-34). Leading zeros are replaced by superscripts, with no hyphen (example: • • 34).

The vehicle classification also plays an important role in determining the vehicle tax. In particular, the very expensive class “7” (over 2000 cm³ or wider than 1.71 m) was specifically created to cover imported vehicles and make them more expensive to own.

Special identifier

Diplomatic marks

Diplomatic license plates have white letters on a blue background.

United States Forces Japan

United States Forces Japan registration plate

According to the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), company cars of the US armed forces in Japan bear a "Y" on a white board or an "A" on a yellow board, where the hiragana symbols are usually located. Earlier versions showed the letters “K”, “M”, “G”, “H” or “E” indicating that the vehicle was imported and left-hand drive. It has been advised against shipping a vehicle from the USA to Japan since 1980, since then many members of the US armed forces have been buying their cars on the used car market outside the base or taking over the vehicles from staff who have been relieved and leave Japan.

List of Japanese regional license plates, sorted by prefectures

Note: In principle, every prefecture in Japan has a license plate, whereby the registered office of the registration office is always indicated, which is only occasionally identical to the name of the prefecture. Due to the large number of motor vehicles in some prefectures, there are several registration offices within such a prefecture. The following list is sorted geographically from north to south.

prefecture Mark Japanese spelling
Hokkaidō Sapporo 札幌
Hokkaidō Hakodate 函館
Hokkaidō Obihiro 帯 広
Hokkaidō Muroran 室 蘭
Hokkaidō Kushiro 釧 路
Hokkaidō Asahikawa 旭川
Hokkaidō Kitami 北 見
Aomori Aomori 青森
Aomori Hachinohe 八 戸
Akita Akita 秋田
Yamagata Yamagata 山形
Yamagata Shonai 庄内
Iwate Iwate 岩手
Miyagi Miyagi 宮城
Miyagi Sendai 仙台
Fukushima Fukushima 福島
Fukushima Iwaki い わ き
Fukushima Aizu-wakamatsu 会 津
Ibaraki Mito 水 戸
Ibaraki Tsuchiura 土 浦
Ibaraki Tsukuba つ く ば
Tochigi Utsunomiya 宇 都 宮
Tochigi Tochigi と ち ぎ
Tochigi Nasu 那 須
Gunma Gunma 群 馬
Gunma Takasaki 高崎
Saitama Ōmiya 大 宮
Saitama Kasukabe 春日 部
Saitama Tokorozawa 所 沢
Saitama Kumagaya 熊 谷
Saitama Kawagoe 川 越
Tokyo Shinagawa 品 川
Tokyo Nerima 練 馬
Tokyo Adachi 足 立
Tokyo Tama 多 摩
Tokyo Hachiōji 八 王子
Kanagawa Yokohama 横 浜
Kanagawa Kawasaki 川 崎
Kanagawa Sagami 相 模
Kanagawa Shonan 湘南
Chiba Chiba 千葉
Chiba Narashino 習 志 野
Chiba Sodegaura 袖 ヶ 浦
Chiba Narita 成 田
Chiba Kashiwa
Chiba Noda 野 田
Yamanashi Yamanashi 山 梨
Yamanashi Fuji 富士山
Niigata Niigata 新潟
Niigata Nagaoka 長 岡
Ishikawa Ishikawa 石川
Ishikawa Kanazawa 金 沢
Toyama Toyama 富山
Fukui Fukui 福井
Nagano Nagano 長野
Nagano Matsumoto 松本
Nagano Suwa 諏 訪
Gifu Gifu 岐阜
Gifu Hida 飛 騨
Shizuoka Shizuoka 静岡
Shizuoka Numazu 沼 津
Shizuoka Hamamatsu 浜 松
Shizuoka Izu 伊豆
Shizuoka Fuji 富士山
Aichi Nagoya 名古屋
Aichi Toyohashi 豊 橋
Aichi Mikawa 三河
Aichi Owari-Komaki 尾 張小牧
Aichi Toyota 豊 田
Aichi Okazaki 岡 崎
Aichi Ichinomiya 一 宮
Mie Mie 三重
Mie Suzuka 鈴鹿
Shiga Shiga 滋 賀
Kyoto Kyoto 京都
Osaka Osaka 大阪
Osaka Naniwa な に わ
Osaka Izumi 和 泉
Osaka Sakai
Hyogo Kobe 神 戸
Hyogo Himeji 姫 路
Nara Nara 奈良
Wakayama Wakayama 和 歌 山
Tottori Tottori 鳥取
Shimane Shimane 島 根
Okayama Okayama 岡山
Okayama Kurashiki 倉 敷
Hiroshima Hiroshima 広 島
Hiroshima Fukuyama 福山
Yamaguchi Yamaguchi 山口
Yamaguchi Shimonoseki 下 関
Kagawa Kagawa 香 川
Tokushima Tokushima 徳 島
Ehime Ehime 愛媛
Kochi Kochi 高 知
Fukuoka Fukuoka 福岡
Fukuoka Kitakyushu 北九州
Fukuoka Chikuho 筑 豊
Fukuoka Kurume 久留 米
saga saga 佐賀
Nagasaki Nagasaki 長崎
Nagasaki Sasebo 佐世保
Kumamoto Kumamoto 熊 本
Ōita Ōita 大分
Miyazaki Miyazaki 宮 崎
Kagoshima Kagoshima 鹿 児 島
Okinawa Okinawa 沖 縄

Web links

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