Aichi Police refund over ¥1 mil in fines to drivers who violated a misplaced traffic sign

By SoraNews24

Japan can be a tricky place to drive in, and in fact sometimes even the people responsible for issuing and enforcing the rules of the road can sometimes get confused.

For example, let’s take a look at this intersection here in Seto City, Aichi Prefecture.


It’s a bit of a mess. For starters, you have a main city road and a prefectural highway intersecting at a very sharp angle. On top of that the highway becomes one-way on the south side of the intersection, and just to make things extra convoluted there’s a tiny conduit between the highway and the main road, creating an A shape, but that little strip of road is only one-way too.

So let’s say someone is driving towards the intersection from the angle seen below, and they want to turn right onto the highway. They can’t use the small conduit because it’s one-way in the opposite direction, so is it possible to make the very sharp right turn at the main intersection?


Earlier this year, one officer with the Aichi Prefectural Police said “no” and applied for a sign to be installed prohibiting right turns. In August of this year an official sign indicating that traffic could only go left or straight was hung, and for good measure another larger and less formal sign was set up underneath notifying drivers that right turns were not allowed in large print, really driving the point home.

▼ A news report showing the sign

Since then, a total of 168 tickets were handed out to motorists who dared to turn right anyway. It wasn’t until November that another officer with the Traffic Control Division noticed the signs and that they were a mistake.

The general rule is that at intersections between city streets and highways, cars should be allowed to access the highway from a right turn. The particular orientation of this intersection apparently was not a factor, and as a result, the signs were immediately removed.

As for the 168 people who received tickets, the Aichi Prefectural Police officially apologized and promised to both cancel the demerit points and refund all fines, totaling 1.14 million yen.

However, this creates a kind of ethically nebulous situation in which readers of the news were largely divided about who to point the finger at.

“It never occurred to me that some traffic signs might be wrong.”

“So technically didn’t the police violate a traffic rule? We should give them a ticket.”

“What about the people who suffered more from the tickets, like those who got their licenses revoked? How are they compensated?”

“Even if the rule was mistaken, the drivers still knowingly disobeyed the sign though.”

“I wonder if the police officers handing out tickets took a moment to consider if the sign was correct.”

“Those demerit points affect people’s insurance. Does that all go away too?”

“I would be furious if I got a ticket for that.”

“But they did ignore a sign telling them not to turn right.”

Whether this is more a matter of reckless driving or police negligence probably boils down to each individual case, so it would seem the Aichi Police are choosing to settle everything in one fell swoop regardless of the circumstances.

Nevertheless, anyone who’s ever gotten a ticket would agree the last thing you’d expect is to get a full refund and apology for it.

Source: NHK via Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Over 2,000 Saitama residents to get refunds from the police for “erroneously” issued tickets

-- Japanese youths anger police by sitting at kotatsu table at busy Kyoto intersection【Video】

-- Getting a driver’s license in Japan the hard way: The first written test

© SoraNews24

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Why is there a plethora of rules at difficult intersections?

Why do police habitually station themselves at such places?

You guessed it…

10 ( +14 / -4 )


I don't think it is only Japan. Of course police works on monthly targets. That is why you see more police on the street every 20th of the month.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Japan's roads are crying out for roundabouts. Much safer than traffic lights. Much more efficient.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

Perhaps the officer who applied to disallow right turns had good reason - for example, that there are a disproportionate number of accidents there?

If road safety is their priority, they could start by prohibiting cars and pedestrians from using intersections simultaneously.

(As an aside, I have driven extensively in four different countries and Japan has by far and away the slowest road speeds and the most zealous traffic cops. Coincidence?).

2 ( +4 / -2 )

BertieWoosterToday  07:22 am JST

Japan's roads are crying out for roundabouts. Much safer than traffic lights. Much more efficient.

I agree, but if they put them where I live, there would be total chaos! Most of drivers would be at a complete loss as to what to do. I am talking about drivers that do not remember the basic driving rules, they don't know that one should indicate before making a maneuver not after and that traffic on the right has priority!

9 ( +12 / -3 )

It makes no difference if the sign was placed in error or not. As a driver one must follow road signs no matter what! I sometimes see road sines that I think make no sense as to why it is there, but a road sign is a road sign, there might be some special reason for it to be there it is not for me to decide not to obey it.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

If you want to go right around the roundabout and vehicles from the right keep coming, your line will be full of traffic, makes people really frustrate esp the slow and inexperienced drivers up in the front.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

Follow the money.......

Why do police habitually station themselves at such places?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Japanese traffic signs are notoriously badly placed. It is common to find no entry signs placed so that they can be seen only after the driver has turned into the street. Sometimes sign are placed behind utility poles so that they are impossible to see. There is a place near where I live where a no overtaking sign is place where the solid yellow line denoting no overtaking ends. Signs can be confusing and even contradict each other. My pet hate is the solid yellow line down a dead straight road through the rice fields followed by broken white lines denoting overtaking is legal on blind corners where overtaking would be suicidal.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

I tried to explain roundabouts to a few adults; drew pictures, gave examples, et cetera. They found it confusing: Going right means go right, right? Not left and left and left?

There’s a stop sign near my house that is behind a tree AND a telephone pole. You only see the stop sign when walking.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Japanese traffic signs are notoriously badly placed

This times a BILLION!!! Also these signs are often rather small & when mixed with all the other signage everywhere relating everything under the sun are very easily missed

2 ( +4 / -2 )

BertieWoosterToday  07:22 am JST

Japan's roads are crying out for roundabouts. Much safer than traffic lights. Much more efficient.

yes man

in city in my country where i came from they have build some 10 roundabouts.all city have no more traffic lights in use.

guess what?

beside saving of electricty,maintenance costs etc there are fewer traffic accidents...yes sure it costs some money to build these roundabous and some people use to get to understand how to drive there but no traffic jams,few accidents...and town looks even more nicer/flowers ,trees,like little garden each roundabout/.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Always surprised me you could not try and fight a traffic ticket here in Japan in some sort of court, or state your case.

Tokyo roads have trees growing into the road causing bicyclists and motorcycles to serve into traffic, signs with blocked view, people putting their plants out into the street, etc.

Glad to see they are doing the right thing in this case. May the bows be deep and pure.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Very nice, Japan!

This is a sign of a civilized society.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

My favourite is the pedestrian crossing waiting game. I've had numerous occasions where I've waited to cross to my sons kindergarten on a busy road, at a pedestrian crossing, hand up in the air ,usually around the 20th car will stop...

On the other hand,my friend was fined for not stopping at a pedestrian crossing recently ,where a woman was waiting, with the police standing next to her ready to pounce on this kind of perpetrator, first time I've ever heard of that.. This place does my head in sometimes..

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Refund? How they gonna refund the money?

It's already been given to hostesses and bar owners.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )


Actually, Japan is the country where the police are the most over zealous and I have lived in four countries around the world.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The worst traffic marking in Japan is white diamonds painted on the road surface. That's because this indicates "pedestrian crossing ahead". Many drivers have no idea that's what it means, and this marking is wholly insufficient to mark a pedestrian crossing, one of the reasons most people drive thru them even when children are waiting. Crossings should be marked with lights on poles, preferably flashing ones.

White diamonds on the road are used even in snowy regions where they cannot be seen for months at a time. The diamonds often start 50m or so in front of the crossing, which isn't even enough time to slow down.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Instead of looking up at poles for badly placed signs perhaps more road markings on the road would be helpful?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Earlier this year, one officer with the Aichi Prefectural Police said “no” and applied for a sign to be installed prohibiting right turns.

So just any run of the mill low ranking flatfoot can decide to change a sign without going through any chain of command or bureaucracy? No wonder you have chaos. He should pay all the fines back out of his own pocket. As things normally work though, he'll be running for office soon and be a prime minister in the near future.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Smart and noble gesture. they made a mistake and they're admitting it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Next there should start a fining spree on all callous drivers who never stop at a pedestrian crossing. They could make billions out of it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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