The number of people in Japan aged 70 or older with a valid driver's license in 2019 exceeded 10 million, a 90-fold increase compared to four decades ago, amid the rapid graying of the country's population, a government report showed Friday.
According to the fiscal 2020 white paper on traffic safety, approved by the Cabinet, there were 11.95 million drivers aged 70 or older, making up 14.5 percent of the total number of licenses.
The number of elderly drivers compares with 130,000 senior drivers in 1975 and 800,000 in 1985.
In 2019, approximately 600,000 drivers surrendered licenses, with those 75 years or older accounting for 58.3 percent. In Japan, which has a population of about 126 million, license holders can surrender or cancel them if they are experiencing a physical decline, among other reasons.
Meanwhile, the annual report found that the number of deaths caused by traffic accidents fell to 3,215, the lowest since comparable data became available in 1948.
But those caused by drivers aged 65 or older totaled 55.4 percent, with the government emphasizing the need to promote cars equipped with advanced road safety features, as well as to strengthen support for people who voluntarily surrender their driver's license.
The report also touched on a road rage assault incident that happened on the Joban Expressway in Ibaraki Prefecture in August last year.
The road traffic law was revised in June to include harsher penalties for road rage incidents following a number of high-profile cases throughout the country.
"We will promote strict measures against obstructive driving," the report said.© KYODO