Japan Data

One in Three Japanese Gold License Holders Never Actually Drive

Society Economy

Japanese drivers can get a special gold license after five years without accidents or traffic violations. However, one in three gold license holders are “paper drivers” who never actually drive.

When people were asked about the color of their driving license in a February 2023 survey conducted in Japan by Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Company, 76% responded that they held a gold license, a form of proof of being an excellent driver. However, around one in three of those gold license holders acknowledged that they were “paper drivers,” a Japanese term for someone who holds a license, but does not drive, and that this was the reason for them having had no accidents or violations.

In Japan, the first driving license is green, while a blue license is issued on first renewal. A gold license is issued to drivers who have had no accidents or traffic violations for five years.

Type of Driving License Held

When the 400 paper drivers were asked how long it had been since they had last regularly driven, more than half answered, “10 years or more,” and 73.3% of all the people who did not drive had not done so for three or more years.

Length of Time Since Last Regularly Drove

Among the reasons for not driving, women were more affected by psychological hurdles, with 77.0% saying they were “scared of driving” and 57.5% who “don’t want to cause an accident.” For men, there were 49.5% who “don’t own a car” and 39.5% who “can travel on public transport.”

Reason for Having a License But Not Driving

Among the top reasons for why people kept renewing their license despite not driving, 56.3% believed they “may drive in the future” and 52.1% because it “can be used as photo ID.”

Reason for Renewing License Despite Not Driving

Around half of paper drivers did say that they wanted to start driving again. Respondents’ comments included “I want to go somewhere with lots of nature for a break,” and “I want to rent a car to travel around while on vacation.”

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)

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