Tokyo Weighs Applying Ad-Truck Rules to Vehicles with Non-Capital License Plates

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A billboard truck is seen in the Kabukicho entertainment district in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, in July. (Part of the image has been obscured.)

All billboard trucks running in Tokyo are likely to be subject to the metropolitan government’s design-related regulations — regardless of where their license plates were issued — from May next year under a plan aimed at eliminating excessively flashy vehicles that “spoil” the cityscape, it has been learned.

The metropolitan government has received a large number of complaints about ad trucks that advertise adult entertainment businesses and job opportunities, among other topics. Their colorful designs and bright lights are criticized as blighting the capital’s surroundings.

In 2011, the metropolitan government revised an ordinance on outdoor advertisements and introduced a system in which an industry organization vets ad-truck designs in advance. Under the regulations, designs are required to be appropriate for public spaces and not make people feel uncomfortable.

As the ordinance only applies to vehicles with Tokyo license plates, ad trucks from areas outside the capital are now a common sight.

In June, the metropolitan government tasked its council on advertising materials to consider how the ordinance should be enforced in order to close a loophole in the regulations; the panel has been working on the issue since then.

According to metropolitan government sources, public comments regarding expanding the scope of vehicles subject to the screening will be solicited by year-end, with an eye on revising the regulations early next year. The new rules would likely be enforced in May, following a period in which the public is informed of the upcoming changes.

The metropolitan government also called on Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures, and five ordinance-designated cities to establish uniform regulations for billboard trucks that cross prefectural borders.