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カテゴリーのアイコン Work Life in Japan
Class Two Driver's License : How to be a Taxi Driver in Japan
May 02, 2024
5 min read
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If you love driving and want to work as a driver in Japan but don't know what to do, reading this article will help you! To drive passengers in Japan, you need a Class 2 driver's license. Until recently, to obtain this license, you had to take a test in Japanese. However, from April 2024, you can take this test in 20 languages, including English! This article introduces how you can become a taxi driver or bus driver in Japan.

The ‘2024 Problem’

The '2024 Problem' is a concern in the transportation industry caused by restrictions on overtime work hours that came into effect in April 2024, leading to a shortage of labor in the transportation industry. This affects not only the transportation industry but also the overtime work hours of taxi drivers and bus drivers. According to estimates by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism in Japan, the impact of the 2024 Problem is expected to result in a reduction in transportation volume of approximately 14%.

Due to this situation, Japan is in need of assistance from foreign workers. The recent decision to allow the Class 2 driver's license test to be taken in languages other than Japanese is also a response to the impact of the ‘2024 Problem’.

What Kind of Jobs Can You Get with a Class Two Driver's License?

Taxi

Taxi Driver

In recent years, Uber has become very popular as a driving service, but in Japan, taxis remain the most popular choice. To become a taxi driver in Japan, you need to be employed by a taxi company while holding a Class two driver's license. Companies vary by region, so it's a good idea to apply to reputable companies in your area. Please refer to the following for job hunting in Japan.

Guideline: Prepare For a Full-time Job Interview in Japan

Bus Transportation in Japan. Translation on Bus : Shin Misato Minami Loop Line

Bus Driver

In Japan, to become a bus driver, you need to obtain a Large Vehicle (Special) Class 2 license, rather than a regular Class 2 license. Additionally, buses in Japan are sometimes operated by the government rather than private companies, so there may be opportunities to become a civil servant as well!

Two helpers picking up disabled senior woman for transport

Shuttle Bus Driver

The job of a shuttle bus driver is different from that of a regular bus driver, as they are responsible for transporting specific groups of people. This includes tasks such as shuttling children to and from nurseries or kindergartens, and providing transportation for the elderly to care facilities. Since you interact with people of various age groups, it could be an opportunity to learn about Japanese culture! To work in this position, you may need to obtain a medium-sized vehicle (medium-sized class two) driver's license.

How Can I Get a Class Two Driver’s License?

To obtain a class two driver's license, there are several conditions:

Age and Experience:

You must be at least 21 years old and either hold another second-class license or have held a first-class license for at least three years.

Vision:

Vision must be 0.5 or better in one eye and 0.8 or better in both eyes, with a depth perception of 2cm or less.

Hearing:

You must be able to hear a 90-decibel alarm at a distance of 10 meters.

Man instructor teaching student about traffic rules on first automobile driving class. Examiner sitting with her student inside a car. Writing points. Driving instructor writing points

People who meet these conditions generally go to driving schools to obtain their license. Since most people aiming for a class two license already have a regular driver's license, the process is similar to when you obtained their regular license!

In order to obtain a class two license, like with a regular license, you must pass both a written test and a practical skills test. Until recently, the written test was only available in Japanese, making it a challenging process for foreigners. However, starting from April 2024, the written test can be taken in the following languages:

English, Chinese, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Thai, Indonesian, Nepali, Khmer, Burmese, Mongolian, Spanish, Persian, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Urdu, Sinhalese, Hindi, and Ukrainian.

How long will it take? How much will it cost?

How long:

As short as 8 days! On average, it takes around 20 days. However, recently there has been consideration to increase the number of lectures that can be taken in one day, so it might be possible to obtain it in an even shorter period.

How much:

If you attend a driving school, it will cost around 230,000 yen. If you choose to skip driving school and take the test directly at the license center, it will cost around 40,000 yen. However, this option is very challenging, with a pass rate of around 10%. It might be a good choice if you are very confident in your driving skills!

japanese middle aged woman using car navigation system

Be a Driver!

Having a class two license in Japan can be a significant advantage when looking for work. Even if your Japanese proficiency is not very high, you can take the test in your native language. As long as you have driving skills, you can obtain a class two license.

Recently, it has become possible not only for permanent residents and long-term residents but also for specific skilled visa holders to work in the transportation industry. It might be a good opportunity to take on this challenge!

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