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Only 25% of parking violations by diplomatic cars in Japan paid last year

This file photo shows the Central Government Building No. 2, located in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward, which houses the National Police Agency. (Mainichi/Kenji Yoneda)

TOKYO -- Around 2,600 parking violations involving official embassy and consulate vehicles in Japan, as well as diplomats' personal cars, were committed last year, and fines were paid in only about a quarter of these cases, revealed the deputy director-general at the National Police Agency (NPA) during a Nov. 19 session of the House of Councillors' Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense.

    A total of 1,982 diplomatic vehicles with blue license plates had been registered with the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs as of Nov. 18, 2020. The number of parking violations recorded during the previous year exceeds this figure.

    According to the National Police Agency, there were around 3,950 cases in 2018 where penalty notices were attached to illegally parked vehicles with diplomatic registration plates, and some 2,600 cases in 2019. On average one diplomatic vehicle incurred around two parking violations in 2018 and about 1.3 violations in 2019.

    Shinkun Haku, a member of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, stated during the session, "75% have shirked payment. This may be because diplomats have diplomatic immunity, and police can't enter into diplomatic establishments." In response, NPA deputy director-general Shinji Nitta said, "Cases are handled in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and it's as you have pointed out."

    Japan's foreign ministry issues diplomatic vehicle registration plates to over 150 countries and international institutions. The license plates are blue with white numbers, and families of diplomats can drive these vehicles as well. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has requested through documentation and verbal instruction that embassies and consulates general respect Japanese laws regarding parking rules. The ministry said that for embassies with particularly high numbers of penalties, it directly demanded senior officials pay the fines.

    (Japanese original by Ryuko Tadokoro, Political News Department)

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