Japan May Tighten Reckless Driving Laws

Japan could potentially see harsher punishments for reckless drivers. The country’s Justice Ministry is currently drafting laws that would decrease differences between types of reckless driving and their penalties.

Japan’s current legislation divides reckless driving into two categories: dangerous driving which results in death or injury and negligent driving which results in death or injury. The maximum penalties are different for each category as well. The penalty for dangerous driving is a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail; for negligent, it is 7 years. The drafted legislation would introduce a new category: quasi-dangerous driving which results in death or injury. The penalty for this new category would be a maximum of 15 years in prison. Because the dangerous driving category only covers extreme cases such as severely impaired driving due to alcohol or drug consumption, the new legislation is seeking to expand punishment for a broader range of driving incidents.

Quasi-dangerous driving would lessen this gap between negligent and dangerous driving; the proposed category includes people driving with medical conditions such as epilepsy that could impair driving. This has caused concern that the new legislation would be discriminatory against people with medical conditions.

The Justice Ministry and Legislative Council are still drafting and expected to revise parts of the new legislation.

These punishments seem extreme compared to Virginia reckless driving, where the maximum punishment is one year in jail.

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