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The cost of owning a car in Japan

What are the costs of owning a car in Japan?

The costs of running a car are:

  • Annual road tax ranges from Yen40,000 (GBP240) for ordinary cars up to Yen70,000 (GBP420) for more for luxury vehicles.

  • Shaken renewal - this is a serious vehicle test (a super MOT in UK terms) - costs at least Yen120,000 (GBP720) not including any essential repairs or replacement items necessary to pass the test every two years after the initial three years, that is 3, 5,7, 9 and so on.

  • Parking - the typical monthly fee would amount to Yen10,000 to 50,000 (GBP60 to GBP300) depending on the area. A parking space within a few hundred metres of an owner’s house is mandatory requirement if you wish to a purchase a car. The police will come to verify the size and location of that parking space!

  • Insurance premium, other than the basic cover in the Shaken, amounts to at least Yen10,000 (GBP60) a month or GBP720 a year.

  • General maintenance and repairs are never undertaken by the owner himself but by a dealer at a high price, Services, labour, rents and advertising costs are very costly in Japan.

The major factor behind rapidly falling car values and the tendency to early replacement is the Shaken. Besides providing a huge income for the government, it ensures every motor vehicle on Japanese roads is safe and sound. As the Shaken price is the same at each renewal, the aggregate cost will eventually amount to more than the value of the car itself. This explains why only an "eccentric person" would consider keeping a car longer than seven or nine years, regardless of its condition. The large majority of these artificially depreciated vehicles is sold at auctions in Japan and exported to the rest of the World at a rate currently over 30,000 units a month.

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