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Japan Mulls Lowering Minimum Age for Train Driving License to 18

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, in November 2020

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The transport ministry is considering lowering the minimum age for obtaining a train driving license from 20 to 18, it was learned Tuesday.

The move comes at a time when regional railway operators are facing shortages of train drivers.

The ministry is expected to revise a related ordinance under the railway business law in fiscal 2024.

Train driving licenses, a national qualification, can be obtained by taking an examination at state-designated training schools or regional transport bureaus.

The ministry set up an expert panel in fiscal 2022 to discuss the license system, while many railway operators were calling for the age requirement to be relaxed.

Representing the severe situation of regional railway operators, Fukui Railway Co. in central Japan and Shimabaratetsudou Co. in southwestern Japan were forced to reduce services in October.