Bus, Taxi Driver License Exam to be Given in 20 Languages; Fewer than 1% of Class 2 License Holders Now Foreign

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A “Driver wanted” message is displayed electronically on the rear of a bus.

The National Police Agency has decided to provide a written exam for the class 2 drivers license — which is required to drive taxis and buses — in foreign languages, although it is available only in Japanese now.

Behind the move are calls from the transportation industry, which hopes to cure a shortage of drivers by offering the test multilingually.

The NPA will distribute sample questions translated into 20 languages, including English, Korean, Portuguese and Vietnamese, by the end of March to police headquarters nationwide that compile actual questions. The languages to be introduced will be determined by the police in each prefecture based on the population of foreign residents there.

As of the end of 2022, there were 885,536 class 2 standard and large-vehicle license holders who can drive taxis and buses, respectively, with only 5,189 of them being foreign nationals.

Sample questions for a class 1 license have already been translated into 20 languages and distributed since 2009.