Kavli IPMU is located near Kashiwanoha Station, which is only a 30 minutes from central Tokyo. We also have enough transportation like trains and buses within the city, so it’s easy to live without cars. However, for those who have small children, it’s good to think about getting a car.
In Japan, we drive on the left. Traffic lights cycle from Green to Yellow and to Red. It is very important to recognize that drunk driving is strictly prohibited in Japan. Not only drunk drivers but also those who provide alcoholic beverages to potential drivers or vehicles to drunk drivers face stiff penalties. Police can stop your car at the roadside and ask you to take a breath-analyzer test, which you cannot refuse. The criterion for drunk driving is 0.15mg of alcohol in one lit of breath, corresponding to 0.03% blood alcohol content. Please note that you can lose your IPMU job if you are arrested for drunk driving.
Foreigners can drive in Japan with a recognized international driving permit for up to one year after entering the country. International driving licenses must be obtained in your home country. Please inquire your local authorities before you leave for Japan if you intend to drive in Japan.
A Japanese driving license is required for all foreign drivers in Japan for more than one year (note that this rule is relatively new, since 2002). Only by leaving Japan for more than three consecutive months, are you again allowed to use an international driving permit in Japan for up to one year.
When you are staying in Japan longer than one year, you must obtain a Japanese license. It is best that you do so by converting your license into Japanese one. Japan has bilateral agreements with more than twenty countries, including Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, to ease the process of acquiring a Japanese license. If you hold a valid driver's license from one of these countries, you can get a Japanese license without taking a written or practical exam.
Instead, go to your local license center with an official translation of your license (obtainable from the Japan Automobile Federation), your passport, and proof that you held your license for at least three months in the issuing country before coming to Japan. If you pass a basic eye and physical test, you will be issued a new license on the same day.
If you have a driver's license from a country which does not have an agreement with Japan, such as the United States, Russia, India, China or Brazil, you will have to take a written and practical exam in order to obtain a Japanese driver's license. This process typically takes several attempts, even for experienced drivers.
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