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News Taxi companies now hiring foreigners - and university graduates!


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
With the transportation industry suffering from a lack of drivers, many cab companies resort to hiring foreign drivers: Hinomaru Kotsu started full-scale hiring of permanent residents and other foreign drivers six years ago. It now has a team of 83 foreign drivers.

One of the difficulties those drivers face are the kanji in their Class 2 license test. Mainichi introduces the case of Massimo Bellini, an Italian driver for a Tokyo-based taxi company and former English teacher who passed after seven failures. Other drivers passed after as many as 80 attempts at passing the test.

Bellini sat the test for his Class 2 license while undergoing training at the company. He had already been in Japan for 16 years at that point, so he could converse easily in Japanese, but for him, the kanji was tough. "I studied day after day -- practice, review, practice, review," he recalls. The written test has 95 questions, which examinees must complete in 50 minutes. To pass, they need a score of at least 90%, but it took time for Bellini to read the questions, and at first, he was unable to get through them in the allotted time. He passed the exam on his seventh attempt, and made his debut as a driver six months after entering the company. He now enjoys his job.

Given the severe shortage of drivers, the Japanese government is now considering easing the license test requirements:

As more than 10,000 taxi drivers quit their jobs during the Corona pandemic, taxi companies are also looking at hiring university graduates. The flexible work hours and the higher salary attract even academics.

Driver Shortage Sends Japan Taxi Firms to Recruit New Graduates
I'm curious how important that Kanji knowledge is to the job? Is it just that the questions are written in them, but are actually about the job? If so maybe implementing furigana as is done in other places would be enough? If it is just about knowing kanji in general, then I wonder what purpose it serves? The need to understand addresses written in Kanji? Understand names written in kanji to know whom to pickup?

They are working in Japan and Japan does use Kanji so I don't have an immediate complaint about them using it, as we would expect people working in the US to know English and I would imagine the same goes for pretty much every country.
The National Police Agency will allow the class 2 license test to drive taxis, buses and other vehicles that transport passengers to be offered in different languages to alleviate a nationwide driver shortage. The class 2 test is currently only available in Japanese, and industry groups have requested that the test be made available in multiple languages. The NPA will soon distribute sample questions translated into 20 languages to each metropolitan and prefectural police department.

Some taxi companies are promoting hiring and training foreign drivers ahead of the other languages being introduced for the test. As of December, Tokyo-based tax company Hinomaru Kotsu Co. had hired about 2,100 drivers, including foreign nationals representing 26 countries and regions. With the Tokyo Olympics on the horizon, the company had anticipated more inbound tourism and so began focusing on hiring foreign nationals in 2017. Hinomaru created an English-language recruiting website to help. About 70 per cent of the people the company hires as drivers are inexperienced. Thus, the company provides training to help the employees, including Japanese nationals, obtain a class 2 driver's license after they start working at the company. During the training, the instructors support the students in studying for the license exam while paying them 10,000 JPY (USD 70) per day.

First taxis, now buses, too: Tokyu Bus-Corp President Furukawa Takashi wants to hire foreign drivers, hoping the move will prompt Japan to open up jobs to people from abroad as the country grapples with a growing labour shortage in the public transport sector.

The Nihon Bus Association estimates that the sector will suffer a shortage of around 36,000 drivers in fiscal 2030, partly because of workforce aging. The figure is equivalent to about a third of the 110,000 drivers in 2023. Even if Japan decides to allow bus operators to hire foreign drivers, getting a Class 2 driver's license required for commercial vehicles is a high hurdle, even for Japanese people. Still, plans are in the works to offer license tests in 20 languages, not just Japanese. While more needs to be done, promoting diversity has been one of the priority areas for Tokyu Bus, mainly operating in Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture, according to Furukawa. It now has two Vietnamese mechanics while female drivers account for around 3 percent of the total.

A survey by the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry covering some 3,100 Japanese small and midsize firms showed that more than half saw Japan's need to accept foreign workers. The industry body said the country is losing its appeal as a magnet for foreign workers. Executives in the transportation industry say the appeal of driving as a profession also needs to be raised, given that long hours and low pay are often associated with the job. A weaker yen also makes Japan a less attractive place to work.


Japan taxi, bus driver's license tests to go multilingual

The National Police Agency will issue sample exam questions in 20 languages to prefectural police forces nationwide by the end of March, allowing them to formulate their questions based on local needs, an official said.

The new multilingual approach for the class 2 driver's license comes after industry groups facing driver shortages requested more be done to enable foreign nationals to work in relevant sectors. The license is necessary to operate passenger transport vehicles, such as local buses and taxis, but the test has only been given in Japanese so far. [...] As of the end of 2022, foreign nationals made up just 5,189, or 0.6 percent, of the 880,536 registered holders of class 2 large and standard vehicle licenses, according to the agency. Asian languages will comprise the majority of the 20 offered, including Chinese, Korean and Tagalog, but European languages, such as English and Portuguese, will also be covered. The NPA said it had not previously provided tests for the licenses in foreign languages because it had not received a specific request to do so. The changes will bring the testing system in line with that for the class 1 driver's license for private cars, motorbikes and other automobiles. The NPA has since 2009 distributed example questions for the class 1 tests in English, and the tests are already available in the same 20 languages.

Just trying to be imaginative...

Maybe a foreign driver could pop their taxi (or even a bus?) onto a ferry, and sell it on in Vladivostok?

Just trying to be imaginative...

Maybe a foreign driver could pop their taxi (or even a bus?) onto a ferry, and sell it on in Vladivostok?

If the foreigner in question is Russian otherwise there is really little chance of it happening. First of all most non-Russians need a visa to enter Russia. Then there is the language barrier if you don't speak Russian. Then who in their right mind would try something like that in Japan!
Regarding the shortage of taxi drivers, what happened to the self-driving taxis that we were promised for the Tokyo Olympics? They've had them in Singapore for several years now.
If the foreigner in question is Russian otherwise there is really little chance of it happening. First of all most non-Russians need a visa to enter Russia. Then there is the language barrier if you don't speak Russian. Then who in their right mind would try something like that in Japan!
There are businessmen here in town that buy older cars, think about 10+ years old. The ones that you can get for a couple man, or the cost of title transfer. They are then put on ships over at the port, and sent off to russia and SE asia. So I've heard.

For a visa to russia, these days it might be hard for a US person. But how about someone from china, or Vietnam?

Who would try it? I was reading earlier about some Vietnamese who had shoplifted millions of yen worth of goods from uniqlo. If people are doing that, then getting someone to hop on a boat to russia (with a hot taxi), might not be too much of a stretch. Their handler might have the deal all structured and ready anyway--they'd just be the mule.
[a prescription?] Taxicab industry foreigner and an entertainer troubled with " labor shortage " are employed by a driver

  • It is short of the people who are up with various types of industry, but the taxi carrying a foot of the movement is no exception and the taxicab industry is short of serious drivers and is hit. It is a foreign driver that attracts attention in order to escape from this pinch. Furthermore, there was the company which employed the person who worked on an entertainment positively.

    One with many people who are taken care of in big city, Tokyo where public transport developed is the taxi which can go directly to the destination. It was only only a vehicle not to be able to get on when a visitor had already taken it when I looked at the vehicle which came and went, and Tokyo, Ginza was displayed with "a meeting car".

    The following voice was asked about the empty car by the person of the town in the situation that the taxi of a certain thing was not readily caught.

    Office worker (30 generations)
    "Generally I see it off. I see off 3-4"

    Independent business (50 generations)
    "After all I do not drift to the way. It is not caught"

    The reason to feel that taxis of the downtown decreased is a decrease in screwdriver.
  • Although, by "the number of the drivers change by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of the taxi business," kept 400,000 people until 2009; is descending after it. It decreases to about 250,000 in 2021.

    The full operation of the vehicle becomes difficult, too, and the taxicab industry is hit by "a one-two punch" from a labor shortage.

    It is a foreigner that a white-feathered arrow was put up to escape from this predicament. I visited the Japanese flag traffic.

    "The chocolate, country of Ghana are Ghana. As I like talking with a person, an interesting person takes the taxi in various ways"

    Hassan from Ghana visits Japan; and 17 years. It is said that I aimed at the taxi driver triggered by a corona evil. However, Japan where is totally different from Ghana in traffic rules. I seemed to have trouble with the acquisition of "two kinds of licenses".

    As "the name is Hassan, receive 83 times. As sweat is a tear of the man, you must do your best"

    I became a pass, "a professional" by the 83rd challenge last year.

    "Visitor gets on, and the back faces it; and "えっ? Is it a foreigner?"

    I say that there is the surprised visitor, but it is said that there is the merit of the foreign driver for the taxi company.

    As "there are many people whom words tell 2-3 languages, instructor Luger Wolfgang who instructed Japanese flag traffic Hassan plays such a role"

    It is said that I show power against a foreign tourist. It adhered to performance of such Hassan.

    At first it is a tourist from the U.K. that took it. It is a foreigner for the breath.

    Tourist from the U.K.
    "I will go for shopping from now on today"

    "I recommend Harajuku. There are a lot of shops"

    Tourist from the U.K.
    What "wanted to just go to Harajuku"

    "I went to Shinjuku"

    Tourist from the U.K.
    "I went to the Golden town of Shinjuku. It was very good"

    I sent the conversation to upsurge, Tsukiji in English.

    Tourist from the U.K.
    Though "I took a taxi many times in Japan, I had never met the driver of the foreigner. The driving was able to be carried in peace at the left side of the stage, too"

    And it is a tourist from Africa that took it from Tsukiji. It is a foreign visitor again.

    "Did you eat sushi?"

    Tourist from Africa
    "It has not yet come. I tried Japanese beef beef"

    "Do you like sushi?"

    Tourist from Africa
    Oh, no!

    If "there is not wasabi, I cannot eat sushi"

    Tourist from Africa
    "It is hard for me to be hot"

    It swelled by a topic of sushi.

    Places of the achievement seem to increase more and more while an inbound visitor comes back.

    Taxicab industry to move for securing of human resources in "every possible means." It is people living in the entertainment world that the condor taxi which approximately 30 a day cannot operate with a labor shortage adopts it positively.

    Condor taxi Masakatsu Iwata, president is "the full-time or part-time worker" of "an entertainment activity and taxi duties. I target people and lay emphasis on a recruiting activity"

    I asked Ise of the driver a story. Originally it is the comedian of three years in an art career.

    Macaroon Shinya Ise (37) "is a style that my lifestyle lies in the taxi dealer for 20 hours for 24 hours," a companion "do an entertainer!" light
    From soft and fluffy macaroon Shinya Ise (37) "the entertainer puts it in trifling one" "comedy live TEPPEN"

    Because an income is not stable, it is said that I became a taxi driver at the same time to begin an entertainer.

    Macaroon Shinya Ise (37) "has this introduce light when work to rest looked for the work that you can take place of (by a shift) when I had work in a hurry" and

    One which features that I work even from little time to balance work with a dream. The schedule including the sudden work seems to accommodate it with the company.

    "Can you concentrate macaroon Shinya Ise (37) as an entertainer light as the money is so, and a heart is better off?"

    A company and a driver, the mechanism with the merit supported taxicab industry each other.
Regarding the shortage of taxi drivers, what happened to the self-driving taxis that we were promised for the Tokyo Olympics? They've had them in Singapore for several years now.
Those were shuttles in and around Olympic village. They were deployed but not suitable for general use afterwards.
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