To the Editor

Back to Contents of Issue: November 2002


I WAS READING WITH interest the September Blowfish column and was wondering what was the source for the "rounder heads" entry.
Michael Fitzpatrick

We had several inquiries about that item. The magazine that said 85.7 percent of the Japanese have round heads is ASCII NET J, according to our finny correspondent, but it has since gone defunct.

We also had some mail about the Viewpoint from the J@pan Inc newsletter "Dealing with Car Authorities Isn't That Simple." In the story, our senior editor Sumie Kawakami describes her experience in dealing with the system of mandatory car inspections, or shaken. Unable to change the ownership of a used car she bought, she was not allowed to drive it or get rid of it. Here are a couple of the responses. -- the editors


I have unfortunately no solution for Sumie's Mazda if she wishes to keep it on the road legally. Paying Hugo's taxes seems a bit extreme but she doesn't have many options by the look of things. If she wishes to terminate the arrangement legally, however, I have a cunning plan.

I believe that parking it anywhere in Roppongi for 30 minutes will see it removed for free to the designated car park behind Hard Rock Cafe waiting for the owner (Hugo, I believe that would be) to pick it up. Considering that disposal of a vehicle costs JPY20,000 to JPY30,000 and the fine is JPY30,000, there is little cost difference even if they try to force her to remove it (for which I see no legal grounds whereby they can do so). Moreover, leaving the car in a car park rather than dumping it in a junk pile is probably better for the environment in the short term.
T. Allen.



Sumie, you're not the first and will definitely not be the last person in Tokyo who has had problems dealing with the Land Transport Department and the Tax Department when it comes to their car. Every other month or so we have people come to our office with problems such as this, sometimes even with near new cars that they have purchased privately and cannot get title to.

We sort most of them out without too much hassle. This is what we do -- we are a car company and our customers are all foreigners. We have seen all the problems, and the problems almost always start with a lack of knowledge of the rules and regulations.

The most important documents for the change of ownership process are the owner's certified or notarized signature from the embassy, the power of attorney and the transfer document.

The certified signature is used in place of an inkanshomei (certified stamp) from the ward office and is only valid for three months. Here is the crux of the issue: If you do not change the title of the vehicle within three months, you will need to get a newly issued certified signature; if the seller has left the country, this may be impossible and you may never get title to the car.

The problem is more often than not lack of knowledge of the procedure rather than the procedure itself being overly difficult.
Shaun Conroy
Occidental Cars



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