Thursday, July 21, 2005

In Which I Acquire a Japanese Driver’s License In Spite of My Dubious ID

For some of you this is old news. For others, you are hearing it for the first time. In order to get a Japanese driver’s license an American citizen must take a Japanese driving test. In fact, it is not considered proper in Japan for a foreign national with no Japanese driving school experience to pass the said driving test on a first attempt, so it is more likely to be two or three driving tests. On the other hand, subjects of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who have earned their driver’s licenses in one of her more affluent kingdoms or dominions need only submit their driver’s licenses from their home countries together with certified JAF (Japanese Automobile Federation) translations, their passports, their certificates of alien registration, and ¥4,850. I personally question whether Canada should be considered an authentically “affluent” dominion, but we do have an annoying graduated license system with a tedious three step process for acquiring a full driver’s license. I guess that is enough to satisfy the local Public Safety Committees (which seem to be the issuing authorities for driver’s licenses here).

The process went without a hitch for me, except for the fact that the bureaucrat processing my license expressed his concern that he could not reasonably conclude that all of the photos above are of the same individual. It is a common phenomenon that many sheltered people find it difficult to distinguish individuals of an unfamiliar race from one another, so it seems a little ironic that this particular official managed to distinguish several identities in my single person. Fortunately, after a brief discourse on weight loss, inconsistent hairstyles, facial hair and the aging process, the issue was allowed to slide.