Article #2 (2008-05-26) : Japanese plates facts

 

Some Facts about Japan License Plates


Vintage 1971-1998 License Plates

The two digits, next to the Japanese Kanji prefecture, across the top generally denoted the vehicle class which went like this:


33, 34, 35, 36 … (Registered for Heavy Car, engine capacity over 2000cc)
55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 51, 52, 53, 54, 77, 78, 79... (Registered for Medium Car, engine capacity from 661cc to 2000cc).

And for the yellow plates, it is different:


40, 41, 42, 43… (Registered for Light Truck, engine capacity up to 660cc)
50, 51… (Registered for light cars, engine capacity up to 660cc)

It is noticed that the oldest ones start with the same double-digit and progress from there. Medium cars were the most common, so they cycled around to 54, and then started using plates from the 7 series. The other two series (3x & 4x) are quite scarce and never cycled through completely.


How fast this occurred of course depended on the prefecture. Large cities like Osaka and parts of Tokyo would go through plates fast, whereas smaller places like Kurume, would take longer to cycle through. So, it is possible to estimate the age of the plate but it is very difficult to give an exact year. This is because 1971 to 1998 is a long time period.



Current Version License Plates


Current version of Japan License Plate started from 1998 with the new 3-digit after the prefecture. Now with the new system we have:


300, 301, 302 ... (Registered for Heavy Car, engine capacity over 2000cc)
400, 401, 402... (Registered for Light Truck, engine capacity up to 660cc)
500, 501, 502 ... (Registered for light cars, engine capacity up to 660cc)


 


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