Currently there are three colors of drivers licenses in Japan. My first license – the subject of many painful tales on this blog – was green and expired this year. Monday I went to the licensing center to get my new blue license. It is valid for three years, after which I can get a gold license; provided I continue to drive reasonably. Gold licenses only need to be renewed every 5 years and the process is simpler. Additionally, insurance companies are soft on those ticket/accident free drivers.
Both I and my better half tried to read the explanation of procedure that came in the mail, but were at a loss to fully grasp it. I was worried that I was heading for another discriminatory battle of wills; however, my fears were laid to rest.
It turned out to be an 11 step process, and the one male I encountered felt compelled to say a few rude things about foreigners. Mostly I was working with the female staff, who I think I have praised in older posts. Efficiency and politeness were their forte as the moved us all to the lecture phase promptly.
The lecture lasted for two hours and included a 45 minute, horribly depressing drama about a man who decided one day to ignore a stop sign. He killed a scooter driver and found himself unable to cope with life. The wife of the decedent also became a nervous wreck and was hospitalized. As a result her children were taken away and separated. Oh, the man’s wife also was sickened with disgust and couldn’t remove herself from her bed.
I felt a little odd having 28 years of driving experience in multiple countries and getting lectured about things I have always considered basic safety. Anyhow, I moved ahead and am looking forward to that future gold license.