Gotta hand it to the Japanese Police, they got that whole driver's license renewal process down cold.
A month before my birthday of the year my license expires, I get a postcard telling me I have until a month after my birthday to renew.
Since I had one minor moving violation within the past five years, I had to do the regular renewal (one hour.) If I had a perfect record I would qualify for speed renewal (30 minutes.)
First floor, general reception, they took my license, stuck into a machine and spit out a completed renewal form. All I did was fill in my name and birthday and sat on a bench before the eye check room.
Stare into the machine and say which way the C is facing: up, right, right, left. OK, done.
Proceed to photography; look into the light, pop, ok next proceed to counter #5. Hand over license and form, receive new form and old license with a hole punched in it. Minor spelling issue with my name here, but corrected quickly.
Next window, pay 3600 yen and receive two stamps (actual stamps, like postage -- one for 3000 and one for 600 yen.)
Step up to the machine and punch in pin twice to set, then upstairs to counter 300, and redirected to room #32.
Hang out for 20 minutes until the 1:30 class starts. Here begins the one hour session.
First watch the 30 minute video; don't drive drunk, don't drive sleepy, don't drive in a hurry, don't drive like a twit. Here we get a small sense of The Japanese Way -- the big message of driving drunk and killing a pedestrian is: since you are in prison, your wife will have to go to visit the victim every day in the hospital and deal with the lawyers, and finally the stress, pressure, and guilt will get to her, and she kills herself. So don't drive drunk or you will cause your family undue horrors.
After the video we had a 30 minute lecture, 25 minutes of which was the intimate details of the changes to the driver's license law and how to renew five years from now. The remaining five minutes was on the detailed stats of driving accident deaths. Curiously enough, most deaths are in fact due to lone two-wheel drivers killing themselves. Basically making this whole course largely pointless, since I was pretty much the only person in the class without a 'regular' (4 wheel) license. And actually my license is only a scooter license, not even a proper motorcycle license.
After the class we got a stamp and then went to pickup our brand new license, complete with embedded IC chip, which eventually will be used by Big Brother to track our every move. But for now is only compatible with the machines...down the hall. Touch your license, type in the PIN and reveal: a full screen image of: your license. The only information NOT shown on the license that is available via the IC reader is my "koseki" aka census registration, a very Japanese thing. Every Japanese person born in Japan is added to their family registry at birth. When they get married, girls (ONLY girls, unless the boy explicitly gets "adopted" into a family that has no natural male heir) are removed from their original koseki and added to their husband's.
One's koseki is considered "personal information" and it is a breach of the personal information protection law to have unnecessary personal information. So for example when a client opens a new account for securities trading we take a copy of their driver's license to verify their name and address. But of course their koseki is irrelevant, so on the photocopy of their license we draw a big black line through their koseki to ensure that we are not in breach of the personal information protection law.
So anyway someone finally figured out that since one's koseki is printed on one's driver's license, and there are basically no situations that require one's koseki but DO require a copy of one's license, then perchance it's a good idea NOT to print one's koseki on one's license?
So on new licenses there is a big blank space for koseki.
Can't wait for the crackers to start pounding away on the IC chip's encryption publishing lists of people's names, addresses, birthdays, koseki, and photographs. Then again this is Japan, land of rampaging citizen apathy; lowest voter turn-out in the modern world, and basically zero response to issues of personal privacy like IC-chipped drivers licenses. Probably the only person in Japan who cares is Joi Ito.

1 comment:

Fluffy said...

I've decided to stop reading Give Your Meat since every time I read it, something about your life as it relates to Japan manages to piss me off. Don't drink and drive because if you hit a pedestrian, while you're in prison your wife will have to visit the victim, lawyers, etc driving her to commit suicide from the stress? The koseki system, not to mention the hanko system and how screwed up it is? How Japan's SEC doesn't know even the most basic financial lingo? I could go on, but I'd just end up punching out the screen of this laptop too.