Japanese officials mull revision that would allow two on motorcycles
TOKYO — Japanese officials have yet to decide how to implement for status-of-forces-agreement personnel a revised law allowing motorcyclists to carry one passenger on certain freeways, Japanese officials said Wednesday.
Under the traffic law revised in June, motorcyclists 20 or older who have had a motorcycle license for more than three years will be allowed to ride double on freeways, a National Police Agency spokesman said.
The implementation date was set Tuesday for April 1, he said.
Because SOFA personnel are exempt from obtaining a Japanese driver’s license, Japanese officials say they must figure out a way to implement the rule for them.
“We have yet to notify and discuss the matter with the U.S. Forces in Japan,” said a foreign ministry’s SOFA division official. U.S. Forces Japan officials declined to comment on the proposed change.
Riding double on motorcycles was banned in 1965 after a series of accidents by motorcyclists riding double on freeways.
The law was revised following motorcyclists’ increased demand to use freeways and their complaints about the inconvenience of traveling long distances when not able to use freeways.
The revised law also raised fines for violators from 6,000 yen (about $58) to 12,000 yen (about $116). Those who don’t pay, or who contest the ticket and are found guilty by a court, now face a fine of up to 100,000 yen (about $972). The previous fine was up to 50,000 yen (about $486), NPA officials said.