New radar system looks to nab speed offenders anywhere in Tokyo


On Oct 27, 2014, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department issued a press release. In rather bureaucratic language, it noted that it was pondering the expanded use of a system called "Ovis" that detects vehicles exceeding the speed limit.

Weekly Playboy (March 30) reports that the system, which is already in use in some countries, uses a camera and timer to photograph speeders. Afterwards the driver receives a summons to appear, upon which he/she might be slapped with a suspension of his license and/or a fine ranging from several tens of thousands of yen to 100,000 yen.

Up to now in Japan, speed detection systems have been limited to toll expressways and major trunk roads. However, if the police have their way, the system will be expanded to narrow streets, for example in residential neighborhoods, setting the stage for an extensive crackdown on speeders.

According the Ryoichi Imai, an authority on traffic regulations, in June 2013, LDP Diet member Keiji Furuya, then-chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, was heard to remark that the nation's citizens should "better understand" the government's efforts to enforce speed laws.

"At present, the trend toward enforcement of traffic regulations has been 'enforcement for the sake of enforcement,'" the source continued. "The posted speed limit for straight sections of four-lane streets (two lanes in each direction) where there's little likelihood of danger to pedestrians is 50 kilometers per hour. On such roads, when the flow of the traffic permits it, cars tend to travel at 70 kilometers per hour. The question is, what is a satisfactory way to nab speeders going 20 km/h over the posted limit?"

The police, which are controlled by the National Public Safety Commission, were under pressure to take action, so about two months after Furuya's remark, they announced the formation of a special "consulting group" that would be entrusted with coming up with measures to prevent accidents.

This led to tests last November of the Ovis system on so-called "seikatsu-doro" (commercial streets, streets in residential areas, etc).

"Many police officials voiced skepticism of the necessity to crack down on speeders on such streets," said Imai, who noted that one argument was that unlike highways, there were few places where police could set up speed traps. That led to the idea of introducing Ovis, which can be used even on narrow streets.

Then for the last two months of 2014, the MPD tested new Ovis system in Saitama, at which time speed offenders were issued summons.

The police experimented with three types of radar systems: fixed, semi-fixed and movable, all designed for the same basic purpose. Their test equipment came, respectively, from Sweden, the Netherlands and Sweden. The movable system, which most closely represents a "nezumi-tori" (speed trap) already in use by police, appeared to be the most practical, since police could take it with them when not on the scene.

If the new system is adopted on Tokyo's streets, will it help reduce accidents? And will the fines paid make much of a contribution to the MPD's income? From statistics compiled over the past two decades, prospects don't seem too encouraging. Weekly Playboy notes that citations for speeding offenses peaked in 1985 with 5.64 million (which represented 45% of all traffic offenses). In 2014 by contrast, the number of citations for speeding had dropped a whopping 67% to 1.83 million, which represented just 19% of all traffic offenses.

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I don't have as much of a problem with highway speeding. It's the narrow local streets where cars (especially taxis) drive way too fast endangering children and inattentive adults.

18 ( +20 / -2 )

Highway excessive speeding(30kph over the posted limits) is sheer recklessness, and should be addressed as should the idiot bikers zipping between lanes. On surface streets, in residential areas, speed bumps would be more effective I think. I'd like my street to have speed bumps every 200 meters. But I don't support these camera systems.

-9 ( +7 / -16 )

I hope they have radar system for noisy motor scooter.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Welcome to Ferguson!!! Okay well Japan may not be as violent as Ferguson but the police certainly have their eyes on PROFIT.

I'm a SPEEDER!! Yeah I said it!! I'm right here. I step on the gas and go fast!!!

Have I ever received a ticket for it? Nah, nope, never. How do I avoid this? Well I'm happy to share my secret with you!! It's no secret at all in fact.

If the weather is nice and you're off work be vigilant. You think it's a beautiful day....the police are there! Inu-Keisatsu and Nezumi Traps.

The only thing you need to know is that it's a beautiful day and there are people out there in uniform looking to make it a bad day for you. I know to be careful before and after bonus season.

I also know that when it's raining....that's the best time to drive ;-). Why? Because cops are lazy and soft. Even undercover patrol cars don't cruise as much on rainy days. Why not? Because of the insurance companies that OWN the police. Occupational hazards have to be covered by insurance companies.....go figure.

Now while the police force thinks that these "ovis" or ORBIS systems are a good thing.....they are NOT. Some of these police officers are going to lose their jobs!! We won't hear about it. They'll just be gone. Just like those guys that used to work the toll gates that have been replaced by machines. Oh yeah. They lost their jobs.

You know what would be "poetic justice"? It would be poetic justice if some of these cops lose their jobs and then while driving to the their next job interview get ticketed by one of these machines.

-9 ( +9 / -18 )

I always follow the speed limit so I have nothing to worry about... that said, I'm a horrible driver and a danger to everyone else on the road. Sorry.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

It'll never happen to any great extent. There aren't even that many radar installations on the highway.

And besides, the police have to publish the location of fixed radar installations anyway, so all you need is an updatable radar detector w/ GPS like the Assura and Yupiterus.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

just another hunt for money...

4 ( +7 / -3 )

yep should go to Australia there are hidden speed cameras everywhere, its just revenue raising disguised as road safety. notice how they want to introduce it when government revenues are bad low but road safety levels are the near the best on record.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

As a cyclist, pedestrian and father of two children who should be able to walk and cycle neighbourhood streets in safety, I'm all for this, and red light cameras too while you're at it.

If police booked all the speeding motorist and red light runners we'd have the national debt paid off in just a couple of weeks!

10 ( +14 / -4 )

If you're careful and attentive, then speeding is less of an issue.

What I see constantly is people pushing to make the light, often cruising over a solid red. This is what needs to be addressed more seriously.

Tight residential streets need to be checked for speeders, but major main roads aren't really the issue. Most of the high ways are extremely well maintained, so they could raise the speed limit with no problem. 100KMH is quite low for those.

On the way to Narita most people go between 120-150KMH, which seems quite a sustainable speed on that road.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

They should instal traffic light cameras while they're at it. The amount of people who run red lights is epidemic

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Many of the speed limits in Japan are already unrealistic with modern cars and ABS brakes. Enforcing a speed limit that is already too low will cause more resentment against the police and local government. Hard to strike a balance, I grant.

When I first came to Japan I thought it was a fascist state with heavy police enforcement on the roads. Now it seems like paradise compared to my own fascist country which has every form of camera wherever you drive. Big Brother incarnate! You have to spend more time reading the various differing warning signs and looking at your dashboard speedo than what might be actually happening ahead of you on the road.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

You have to spend more time reading the various differing warning signs and looking at your dashboard speedo than what might be actually happening ahead of you on the road.

No excuses there. Spatial awareness is a general issue here. But rather than installing hidden speed cameras, putting them in at traffic lights would be more effective.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

These things are installed in the UK, although I've only seen them on trunk roads. They force people to keep to the speed limit over long stretches of road by measuring the time taken to travel e.g. one mile. I've often wondered why they don't use them at entrances and exits to motorways too.

I still think the biggest contribution to solving the Japanese deficit would be red light cameras + Y100000 fines. Some of the junctions around here would yield Y100,000,000 per day.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

In quiet neighbourhood streets - OK, fair enough. I've driven all over Japan and it's very clear that the highway speed limits are too low. Even on the Shuto Expressway here in Tokyo. 50km/h limit on a main road & 80km/h on a highway just don't cut it in 2015. Besides, if you do enough driving on the likes of the Kanetsu & Tomei Expressways, you'll quickly learn that NO ONE does the speed limit on these roads. They're dead straight & have visibility that should allow for speed limits well over 100 km/h...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Only time we've seen speed cameras are on school zones and have to be conspicuously advertised so as not to be a surprise to anybody (after all, the purpose of the camera is to get drivers to slow down, not to slyly fleece them off cash, right? right?)

Nah, it's just a racket for the state to refill their empty coffers. Even then, ya could just buy in the Net one of those clear-coating spray-cans for your license plates that would reflect the light off the cameras, thus blurring the image photo of your license plates, and thus they cannot determine it's your car (and without the presence of a police officer there to ascertain that it is indeed you) lol

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I do not think it has to do with safety. It is about increasing revenue. The Washington DC government was complaining that their budget did not come out as planned because they had taken into account fines collected from speed tickets processed by speed cameras. A lot of these cameras broke or malfunctioned so revenues dwindled. Drivers were laughing at the DC government because they had planned their budget with the inclusion of a not so sure category.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

honestly i don't think anyone ever follows the sign especially on the tomei expressway. there were cars doing way more than the suggested speed limit with no police in sight or even able to catch them in some cases. hopefully this will help when it comes to those idiots who have no regard at all for the speed limits.

don't even get me started on the motorcycles and the mopeds on side street and in traffic. those are the worst offenders. i was so tempted so many times to just open my door just to get them to stop being idiots.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

if you use Uchibori between Kudanshita and Takebashi, watch your speed as they are enforcing that 25mph limit with vigor!

I seriously doubt the speed limit is in miles per hour. This is Japan.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

40kph = 40kph.

This is Japan, not America.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

People always shoot back with "money grab!". Skip the money fine then, just double the amount of points you loose. I think Japan has 12 demerit points...? If speeding was the loss of 3 before, double it to 6. Caught speeding twice, loose your license and car is impounded.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I guess this will work if the majority of drivers are aware of the radar system, but every time I come across this kinds of laws which make people avoid doing something dangerous because people think "I'm been watched", I feel sad a little. People should avoid doing harmful things out of moral and ethical considerations.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If the money raised goes toward good use, then what's the big deal? As long as the money goes toward road maintenance and not just into politicians pockets, there's no reason any one should be upset at raising money through speed cameras. And as others have said, they should put in red-light cameras too.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

In the UK we use to have hundreds of these speed cameras, but the accident rate didn't really drop, why? well every body was watching there speedo 24/7 so that they didn't speed, but the down side was it distracted the drivers, so accidents were on the up due to lack of concentration on the roads, also rear end shunts went up because drivers who were speeding slammed on there brakes to slow down, and the guy behind was watching his speedo so CRUNCH! now a lot of these cameras have been removed, originally the money/fines were supposed to go to the local police force to reeducate driver or promoting road safety, but it didn't in the end, it all went to the government ! but the local police had to buy or rent these speed cameras which cost a lot of money to run and recalibrate every two years. so with money being tight the local police force have removed them to save money!!! What has replaced these cameras is a LED sign that detects the drivers speed and flashes that speed up on a big display board so he she can see what they are traveling at, so no fines no p***d off drivers it makes you aware of what speed your traveling at, would this be a better device to install in japan?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I seriously doubt the speed limit is in miles per hour. This is Japan.

So what? He was just converting Kph to mph, nothing wrong with that, we all know Japan uses the metric system. If you can convert, it's not a big deal. Just sayin...

yep should go to Australia there are hidden speed cameras everywhere, its just revenue raising disguised as road safety. notice how they want to introduce it when government revenues are bad low but road safety levels are the near the best on record.

I agree, it's the exact same thing in the States as well as many other countries. It is basically a form of tax revenue, even to catch people and cite them for the minor if infractions, broken tail light, a dent on the side of your car, a loud muffler noise, anything that grabs the officers attention and to come pull you over and write up a speeding ticket. I wouldn't have SO much of a problem with it, if the city and the police would be transparent about and call for what it really is instead of ticketing people and harassing them for something they might not be guilty of just because the cops are pressured to bring in that extra revenue which overall can lead to a lot of misunderstanding, prejudice and confusion.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Perhaps I haven't been going fast enough to trigger the expressway camera ticketing system(knock on wood). If they do activate it, they'll probably make a fortune in just one day. Neighborhood street speeding seems more of a problem. We inquired about putting in speed bumps along our small street, but the city said people just complain about the noise.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

no freedom in Japan my tax money is spent on police power harassment like this radar system. Too much control by the police

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What Japan really needs is a program to assign reasonable speed limits and to also put up more speed limit signs. But there is no profit in that, so forget about it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A driver who violate speed limit within 30kph in common streets/40kph in expressways doesn't have to pay for penalty ticket immediately if you feel the speed trap is not fair i.e. less traffic,no pedestrians,and ridiculously slow speed limit.

See the back side of the ticket which you receive when violating,police declares that,printed not in English but in Japanese only. All you have to do is wait for a letter from police,and ignore it,then again they'll send another letter,ignore it,and continue this until the public prosecutors office will order you an appearance. In this time you must respond this order ringing them up instead of actual attendance avoiding a summary proceeding and tell them"I want a regular trial". Most of >96% trifle traffic violation will be dropped and you will not obliged to pay for it anymore.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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