This section explains how motorcycle licenses in Japan are currently divided.
Motorcycle licenses in Japan are classified according to displacement.
The motorcycle license system in Japan is divided according to the displacement of the motorcycle: mopeds, small motorcycles, medium-sized motorcycles, and large motorcycles.
The minimum age to obtain a license is 18 for large motorcycles and 16 for all others.
The following chart summarizes the driver’s license system.
The cost of obtaining a driver’s license in Japan is said to be the most expensive in the world, and motorcycles are no exception.
Moped License: ~50cc
A moped license allows you to ride a motorcycle with an engine displacement of up to 49 cc.
A very simple written test and a few hours of training at the end of the course are all that is required to obtain the license.
The cost to obtain a license is about 10,000 yen, including the cost of the textbooks available on the market for study.
The people who obtain this license are mainly high school students in depopulated areas without public transportation suitable for commuting to school.
Also, many delinquent high school students who want to ride motorcycles first obtain a moped license, which is easy to obtain, as a step toward riding a larger motorcycle.
In addition, a regular driver’s license allows a rider to ride a moped up to 50 cc.
Therefore, the number of people who obtain a moped license is limited.
Small motorcycle license: ~125cc
A small motorcycle license allows the holder to ride an automatic motorcycle up to 125 cc.
There are two types of licenses: an automatic transmission only AT license and a manual transmission license that allows you to ride a manual transmission motorcycle.
The time required to obtain a license for each type of license is 9 and 11 hours, respectively, for those who have a regular driver’s license.
In addition, the cost of obtaining a license in this case is about 80,000 yen (900 US dollars).
If you do not have a moped license or a driver’s license, you will need to attend a driving school for 35 hours and 38 hours, respectively.
In this case, the cost of obtaining a license is about 140,000 yen (1,500 US dollars).
Although demand for 125cc motorcycles has been increasing in Japan in recent years due to their extremely low maintenance costs, the number of people who obtain a small motorcycle license is not large.
It is common for riders to obtain a standard motorcycle license, which is described below.
Standard Motorcycle License: ~400cc
A standard motorcycle license allows the holder to ride a motorcycle up to 400 cc.
Until 1995, it was very difficult to obtain a license for motorcycles larger than 400 cc, so many Japanese, especially older riders, have only a standard motorcycle license, even though they have been riding motorcycles for a long time.
This license is divided into two types: an AT license for automatic transmission only, and an MT license that also allows the rider to ride a motorcycle with a manual transmission.
However, most riders obtain an MT license.
For the MT license, a rider with a regular driver’s license is required to attend a driving school for 18 hours.
Also, the cost of obtaining a license in this case is approximately 180,000 yen (2,000 US dollars).
If you do not have a moped license or a driver’s license at all, you will need to attend a driving school for 45 hours.
In this case, the cost of obtaining the license is about 120,000 yen (1,400 US dollars).
Large Motorcycle License:~∞
A large motorcycle license allows the holder to ride any motorcycle with any engine displacement.
There is also an AT license as a category of license, but only a few people obtain this license each year.
Before the 1995 amendment, however, unlicensed people could obtain a large motorcycle license. Before that, after obtaining a regular motorcycle license, one had to go to the Driver’s License Examination Center and take a rigorous test at least 10 times while being yelled at by the examiner, who was a former motorcycle policeman.
The license system was criticized by Harley-Davidson and other foreign manufacturers as a non-tariff barrier and was revised in 1995.
In Japan, most people generally obtain a regular motorcycle license before trying to ride a large-sized motorcycle.
In that case, it is possible to obtain a license by taking lessons for about 130,000 yen (1,500 US dollars).