New Japanese law affects Marines' transportation

17 May 2002 | Cpl. Jeff M. Nagan

A new law affecting service members and residents currently living in or transferring to Japan requires older model motorcycles and mopeds to meet expensive emission and brake standards before hitting the road.

"One of the biggest reasons this law was established was to help control and lower the amount of pollution throughout Japan," said Cpl. Jesus Contreras, traffic management office outbound counselor at MCAS Beaufort.

Owners of vehicles manufactured before April 2001 with engines exceeding 250 cubic centimeters must take their moped or motorcycle to one of the few test facilities located in the Tokyo or Osaka areas. According to business estimates, the emissions test will cost vehicle owners about $750.

If a motorcycle or moped fails to meet emission standards, fees to bring it into compliance can cost service members a substantial amount of money depending on the type and model.

"Service members buy mopeds and motorcycles to save money, but with this law, they are forced to pay nearly the same cost as a new car," Contreras said.

Under the law, vehicles older than July 1999 must also meet brake standards. Owners are required to have a manufacturer's certificate stating that the vehicle meets safety standards.
Without a manufacturer's statement, vehicle owners must receive a brake certificate issued from either an official brake test authority or foreign brake test organization.

"Costs to get a vehicle's brakes to meet standards can cost service members between $2,000 to $4,000," Contreras said. "Most Marines don't have that much money to spend."

Residents of Okinawa are not exempt from this law. Since there are no places to test emissions or brakes on the island, owners are required to transport their vehicles to one of the facilities on mainland Japan.

In addition to paying for shipping and emissions and brake tests, vehicle owners cannot drive to a testing facility unless their moped or motorcycle is temporary registered, which requires it to be insured.

"Marines heading overseas to Japan should start thinking about their best mode of transportation for their dollars," Contreras said. "Bicycling, walking, and car pooling are all possible solutions Marines should keep in mind."
Anyone looking for more information can contact the local Traffic Management Office.