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|1962 onwards normal series plate. 大宮 = Omiya (Saitama prefecture). 54 = 4 wheel car 661-2000 cc. Two digit vehicle class codes were issued from 1967 to 1999.
Note the seal covering the left bolt hole. This is to prevent the plate from being moved to another car, because it has to be destroyed in order to reach the bolt. For whatever reason this one escaped destruction.
|1962 onwards normal series plate. 沼津 = Numazu (shizuoka prefecture). 34 = car over 2000 cc. Two digit vehicle class codes were issued from 1967 to 1999.|
This is the much rarer illuminated plate variety, where the characters are made of translucent plastic material. The plate is shown here in normal and back-lit view. This plate type was introduced in 1973.
|1962 onwards commercial vehicle plate. 所沢 = Tokorozawa (Saitama prefecture). 400 = truck 661-2000 cc. Three digit vehicle class codes were issued from 1998.
Commercial vehicles have plates in reversed colors.
On Japanese plates with less than four serial digits, there is no hyphen before the last two digits, and there is a dot in the place of missing digits.
|1962 onwards large vehicle plate. 足立 = Adachi (Tokyo prefecture). 100 = truck over 2000 cc. Three digit vehicle class codes were issued from 1998.|
Even though heavy vehicle plates are considerably bigger than normal plates, only the big main digits are in a larger font.
|1962 onwards temporary plate. なにわ = Naniwa (Osaka). 西成 = Nishinari district.|
|Small car plates|
Until 1975, small cars up to 360 cc had motorcycle size plates in the normal colors of white and green. In 1975 the engine size limit was increased from 360 cc to 660 cc, and the plates became normal size, but colored yellow and black. However, the small white and green plates are still issued to small cars built before 1975.
Upper plate: 1962-1975 normal series plate. 沖 = Okinawa. 88 = car up to 360 cc.
Middle plate: 1975 onwards normal series plate. なにわ = Naniwa (Osaka). 580 = car up to 660 cc.
Lower plate: 1975 onwards commercial vehicle plate. 野田 = Noda (Chiba prefecture). 40 = truck up to 660 cc. Commercial vehicles have plates in reversed colors.
These come in two varieties for motorcycles above or below 250 cc. In the upper left corner there is an inspection sticker. Cars have that sticker on the windshield.
Upper plate: 1962 onwards motorcycle plate. 大宮 = Omiya (Saitama prefecture). 1 = motorcycle between 126-250 cc.
Lower plate: 1962 onwards motorcycle plate. 相模 = Sagami (Kanagawa prefecture). The absence of a vehicle class code and the green border indicate a motorcycle above 250 cc.
|Small vehicle plates|
These plates are issued by municipalities rather than prefectures. The color of the plate shows the vehicle class and in the case of motorcycles also the engine size. The actual design of the plates varies by municipality. Bigger cities with longer numbers use wider plates with cut off corners.
White: Mopeds up to 50 cc. 葉山町 = Hayama town (Kanagawa prefecture).
Yellow: Motorcycles 51-90 cc. 大阪市 淀 = Osaka city, Yodogawa district.
Pink: Motorcycles 91-125 cc. 岩国市 = Iwakuni city (Yamaguchi prefecture). The sticker shows the insurance expiration.
Blue: Three wheeled vehicles and mini cars. 浄法寺町= Joboji town (Iwate prefecture)
Green: Small tractors, forklifts, snowmachines, etc. 浄法寺町= Joboji town (Iwate prefecture)
See also from the Military Forces Abroad page:
|United States forces in Japan|
|1951 private vehicle plate. Until 1952, US personnel in Japan were issued annual American style plates.|
|1953-1955 series private vehicle plate. 埼 = Saitama prefecture, 3 = large car, A = imported vehicle.|
These plates looked like normal Japanese plates, but the hyphen after the vehicle class code was replaced with a western letter.
|1955-1962 series. The absence of the Kanji letters means that the plate is from Tokyo, 3 = large car.|
While normal plates had a Japanese serial character at the start of the second line, U.S. Forces plates had a western letter there.
|Current Series from 1971. 横浜 = Yokohama, 55 = car 551-2000cc. These plates look like normal Japanese plates, but the serial letter at the start of the second line is western, not Japanese.|
Note the seal covering the left bolt hole. This is to prevent the plate from being moved to another car, because it has to be destroyed in order to reach the bolt. In this case, however, additional holes were drilled into the plate so that it could be mounted onto an American car. That way the seal remained intact.
|United States forces in Japan (Okinawa)|
|Okinawa was administered by the United States until 1972, and then returned back to Japanese control. The United States issued distinctive plates for their personnel. This one is from 1960. E = enlisted man (there was also O for officers and C for civilian employees).|
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