Japan’s Foreign Ministry to penalize diplomats that fail to pay parking fines

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Foreign Ministry head office is seen in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Nov. 1, 2020.

The Foreign Ministry has begun to deny gasoline tax exemptions to foreign diplomats based in Japan if they fail to pay parking fines.

People who refuse to pay such fines are usually subject to seizure of property and other penalties. However, diplomats have been exempted from confiscations due to their diplomatic privileges under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

“The lack of de facto penalties for violations has led to non-payment,” a Foreign Ministry official said.

The ministry therefore decided not to issue gasoline tax exemption certificates for the vehicles of foreign diplomats who have not paid their fines. It plans to issue individual warnings in serious cases of repeated failure to pay.

There are about 2,000 vehicles registered to foreign diplomats in Japan. In fiscal 2018 there were 3,118 cases in which the statute of limitations expired for non-payment of fines (¥46.77 million). These numbers were 2,736 cases and ¥41.04 million in fiscal 2019.