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Driving in Japan

Date Posted: 2001-12-13

The information provided in the "Driving in Japan" column concerning using an international driverís license is incorrect. If you are planning to stay in Japan for more than 90 days, you must get a regular Japanese driverís license. The 90-day rule is pretty common around the world. Obtaining a Japanese driverís license is not too difficult and not too expensive, either. If you have an American driverís license, it is fairly easy to convert to a Japanese one; the only requirement is a short written test (can be taken in English) and a driving test on a closed course. I received my Japanese driverís license last April and paid less than •7,000. The license is actually much cheaper, but I had to retake the driving portion of the test twice.

Daniel Brandt
Kanagawaken, Japan
(formerly lived in Okinawa)

Beware of unfamiliar calls
There have been several cell phone fraud incidents that have occurred in the JSDF. Please pass on the following information to as many people as possible to help prevent more incidents as such to occur.

1. Your cell phone will ring only ONCE, then cut off. When you return the call to the number that is recorded in the cell phone memory, you will be connected to a Q2 line (similar to 900 psychic/ sex-related numbers in the US). Even though you may have only called for a few seconds, just connecting to the number will result in being billed for at least 1,000 dollars (separate from your regular cell phone bill). The collection agency responsible for collecting that separate billing is rather aggressive, and may have ties to the Japanese mafia.

2. Reported numbers:

06-6301-1999, 052-733-1551, 052-733-1288, 052-733-8488, 06-6301-7778, 052-735-7300, 03-3793-7552, 03-5724-2929, 03-3551-4330, 03-3444-6555, 03-5679-7844, 03-5679-7848, 03-3446-4567, 03-3446-0990, 03-5420-4466, 03-5340-8877, 03-5340-9330, 0534-27-3172, 03-5340-9381, 03-5340-9382, 03-3448-4760, 03-3280-7660, 03-3851-4141, 03-3227-2828, 03-5391-7600, 03-3984-6761, 03-3444-6710, 03-5348-4441, 03-3355-7550, 06-4968-3114, 03-5423-2570, 06-6300-0702

Note: The (03) area code is Tokyo area, and (06) area code is Osaka. FYI, (098) is area code for Okinawa.

3. How to avoid getting billed. Don't call back on your cell phone. If you must call back, use a public coin phone so that the fraudulent company cannot get access to your cell phone record or home/office phone record. As a general rule, though, if you don't know who just called you, don't call back.

Hopefully, this information is timely.
SgtMaj Suwa
JGSDF Liaison Chief

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