national

Fines paid in only 25% of parking offense cases by foreign diplomats

29 Comments

Fines for parking offenses involving foreign diplomats based in Japan were collected in only a quarter of cases last year as they were protected by diplomatic immunity, according to the National Police Agency.

Police spotted around 2,600 vehicles with diplomatic license plates illegally parked in 2019, with drivers not paying fines in about 75 percent of cases, an NPA official said in the Diet.

In 2018, parking offenses involving vehicles with diplomatic license plates stood at 3,948, the NPA official added. As of Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry has issued 1,982 special license plates for diplomats stationed in Japan, according to the ministry.

The NPA official said it is difficult to collect fines from diplomats as they have immunity based on the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

The police collected fines in about 81 percent of cases of parking violations committed by ordinary drivers in the country in 2019, he added.

Opposition lawmaker Shinkun Haku, who asked about the figures during a session of the House of Councillors Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense, described the failure to pay as "a big problem" and criticized the offenders.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said at the session that the parking offenses were "extremely regrettable" and that his ministry will continue to warn foreign diplomats in Japan to comply with traffic rules in the country.

However, the foreign minister did not directly respond when Haku, a member of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, proposed that the government disclose the names of the countries involved or ask for the license plates to be returned in the case of habitual offenders.

© KYODO

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29 Comments
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This is a world-wide problem that will never be dealt with as long as there is 'diplomatic immunity' and those individuals that think they are above the law but it always makes for a good subplot in any TV series or movie when there's a crime involved.

22 ( +22 / -0 )

Happens in all capital cities and much worse than this goes on...

17 ( +18 / -1 )

It’s called diplomatic immunity for a reason, which is another way of saying this isn’t news.

Happens in all capital cities and much worse than this goes on...

No doubt. Parking fines are small potatoes.

9 ( +15 / -6 )

However, the foreign minister did not directly respond when Haku, a member of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, proposed that the government disclose the names of the countries involved or ask for the license plates to be returned in the case of habitual offenders.

Too lenient. Just publish violators' name and country of origin.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Not a few diplomats display an overweening sense of entitlement and prickly amour-propre although they are just the spoiled pampered factotums and lackeys of politicians. The law needs to be amended to meet the standards of fairness expected of a democracy and mete out punishment to those reprobate diplomats who flout the law with impunity.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

To be honest. 25% is a much higher number than I would have expected. People hate parting with money and diplomats have the ability to avoid paying for their parking offenses and can't be prosecuted because of it.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

I don't really agree with the concept of diplomatic immunity. Why govt officials should be exempt from local traffic laws escapes me.

Laws concerning more serious offenses, I understand, so as not to be prosecuted under suspicious or ridiculous local laws that can be used to attack those they don't like.

Parking and traffic laws shouldn't be packaged in with diplomatic immunity.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Happens everywhere. London is owed millions in parking and congestion charge fees from diplomats. The US Embassy is the worst offender.

Diplomats also get away with murder.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

So either stop papering vehicles with diplomatic plates, or start clamping boots on them. That would get some attention.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The problem are not those false parkings, but importing illegal drugs , weapons and other such things. You guide the children safe all the way to schools every morning, but don’t check the imported tons of drugs by those immunity covered diplomats, so that they can kill your youth afterwards when grown up out of schools? I really don’t understand your more than stupid and ignorant behavior, lacking of any logic.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

If they are protected by diplomatic immunity, that means they can park anywhere so why waste time ticketing them? Is it just so they have a record of what countries' diplomats are the naughtiest when it comes to parking?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

By way of some context, it should be noted the US Embassy is notorious for this in London, and owes HM Inland Revenue a ton of money in unpaid fines.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

noriahojanenToday  07:43 am JST

Too lenient. Just publish violators' name and country of origin.

In my home town of Washington DC we started doing this and it has worked well. Once the actual ambassadors saw they were going to be or were being put on blast, they put their foots down on their staffs and their staff's dependants.

Once the DC PD started posting the lists, it turned out that most of the offenders were not actual staff members/diplomats, but their families.

I agree with the idea of diplomatic immunity, it would be too easy to throw a diplomat in jail over a fraudulent parking ticket as a matter of protest over that countries actions.

In this situation I think the public pressure concept is the best way to go.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

The foreign ministry should hang its head in shame for even mentioning this, since they owe Transport for London OVER 8 MILLION POUNDS and are the second worst offenders after the US.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-51629344

8 ( +8 / -0 )

May be its time to change some of the rules. Nobody should be above the law.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

25% is great! Imagine if you had the option of either paying the fine or not paying the fine knowing that NOTHING will happen either way.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The police collected fines in about 81 percent of cases of parking violations committed by ordinary drivers in the country in 2019, he added

This does not surprise me.

Japanese oddity is that in the case of any violation of the road act of you pay the fine then it ends there but if you choose to contest in court and loose then you are now convicted of a criminal offense.

This is even more serious if you are not Japanese as it can affect your legal right to remain in Japan. ( This was explained to me by more than one lawyer)

Now if you do get a parking ticket, do not follow the instructions and pay it immediately at the police station, if you do that they will deduct points from your driver's licence. Wait a few days ( may take a week) a ticket will be sent to the address of the car owner this ticket can be paid online or at the post office by anyone and not demerit points. Also there is no difference in the amount of the fine.

If the fine is not paid then the car can not pass Shaken when due.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

@Antiquesaving

Great tip!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Solution: to get a diplomatic plate you have to have an open bank account immediately deductible.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I don't really agree with the concept of diplomatic immunity. Why govt officials should be exempt from local traffic laws escapes me.

Remember that local traffic laws in other countries can be bizarre by our standards and the penalties can extend far beyond a small fine. Until recently the penalty for driving while female in Saudi Arabia was 10 lashes. In Gujarat the maximum penalty for hitting a cow on the road can be life imprisonment. Visiting diplomats aren't expected to know the ins and outs of local laws, including traffic regulations, so for better or worse they are afforded diplomatic immunity.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@Goodlucktoyou what a brilliant idea

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Happens the world over. They even get away with rapes and murders.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Happens everywhere. If someone figures out a solution, it would be very welcome news.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

They are protected overwhere from justce 24hrs around the clock.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This isn't a Japanese problem... if anything the police are wasting their time, they dont have to pay it because they are not bound by Japanese law.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Very frustrating no doubt but the immunity is there for a reason. Agree with H above, the name and shame approach is the only acceptable way forward. Offenders can if the host country feels it is serious enough be declared persona non grata and required to leave. Doesn’t do their career much good in most countries.

So when is Japan going to pay up for all the traffic violations in London and around the world?

Some countries clearly misuse the diplomatic immunity card, the USA in particular is now renowned for it in the UK. Kill a child with your car and flee the consequences claiming diplomatic immunity!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It is worse than just avoiding fines. I remember a discussion about vehicles and diplomatic immunity. Apparently a Russian spy working with Trump was refused bail, the argument went, because if she were to step into a Russian vehicle, she would instantly be out of reach of law enforcement.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I bet Japanese diplomats have a spotless record overseas dating back to the Heian Period. I just know it.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Simply put diplomatic immunity is prone to abuse and those that enjoy these privileges need to respect and obey the law period. They need need to abolish and or review the diplomatic immunity clause period. " Nobody is above the law"

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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