Govt Draft Report Unveils Japan’s Plans to Promote Level 4 Autonomous Driving Nationwide by Fiscal 2025

The Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A Level 4 autonomous electric cart is seen in Eiheiji, Fukui Prefecture.

The government plans to promote Level 4 autonomous driving — driverless vehicles operating under specific conditions — nationwide by fiscal 2025, according to a draft report on the government’s digital administrative and fiscal reform.

The draft report, unveiled Tuesday, also said the government will begin discussions on allowing bus, train and other transport companies to enter the ride-sharing service industry, in which members of the public use their own cars to provide paid rides.

The draft report is expected to be officially endorsed as early as next week during a meeting on digital administrative and fiscal reform headed by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Digitization is one of the key policies of the Kishida administration.

The draft report emphasizes the government will make maximum use of digital technology to achieve social reform to cope with a rapidly shrinking population. It also outlines a plan to advance reviews of both budgets and regulations in transportation, childcare, medical care and other areas.

The acceleration of the commercialization of driverless vehicles is a pillar of the reform plan in the transportation sector. The government aims to realize, or formulate a plan for, year-round operation of automated buses and other vehicles in all prefectures by fiscal 2025.

According to the government, the autonomous driving system has been rolled out onto general roads at only 16 locations nationwide as of May 1, and Level 4 operation is being conducted at only one location.

The draft report also calls for shortening the screening process required for the introduction of autonomous driving to two months from its current duration of about 11 months.