Police agency unveils draft bill to allow self-driving vehicles on Japan’s roads
Japan Times -- Dec 21
The National Police Agency on Thursday unveiled a draft bill that would allow vehicles with a high level of autonomous features to run on public roads, with an eye toward implementing the legislation in the first half of 2020.

The bill to revise the nation’s road traffic law would enable travel for what the government classifies as level 3 autonomous vehicles. Such vehicles can allow drivers to shift their attention elsewhere and let the system drive, except for during emergencies and system glitches that would require them to take back control.

In the initial stage, the government may only allow the use of level 3 self-driving technology during highway traffic jams.

Autonomous driving technology is classified into five categories. Under the current law, only level 1 vehicles that have one of either automated steering, acceleration or braking features and level 2 cars that have more than one of those automated functions are allowed to travel on public roads.

Level 4 pertains to vehicles that can drive themselves under certain conditions without human input, even in emergencies, and level 5 cars have complete autonomy without any conditional requirements.

The draft bill would allow drivers of level 3 cars to talk on their mobile phones or watch TV, actions that are prohibited for those behind the wheel in conventional vehicles, as long as they can smoothly take back control of the car.

Actions such as working on a computer in the rear seat, sleeping or drinking alcohol would remain prohibited.

Self-driving vehicles would be banned from traveling on public roads unless they are equipped with travel data recorders. Drivers would also be required to save their driving data.

News sources: Japan Times, ANNnewsCH
Jun 26
Japan's space agency says it will try to have the Hayabusa2 space probe make a second landing on the asteroid Ryugu next month. (NHK)
Jun 26
Talent agency Yoshimoto Kogyo Co. on Monday announced the suspension of 11 comedians for participating in a party held by so-called “anti-social forces” group without prior clearance from the agency, reports TV Asahi (June 24). (tokyoreporter.com)
Jun 26
Graffiti was found Tuesday morning on a stone wall that surrounds the Akasaka Estate in Tokyo, where Emperor Naruhito and his family reside, police said. (Japan Times)
Jun 25
A slug has been blamed for a power outage that halted dozens of trains and delayed 12,000 passengers in the Kyushu region, operator Kyushu Railway Co. (JR Kyushu) has said. (Japan Times)
Jun 24
A Japanese man convicted of assault and theft was arrested Sunday in Yokosuka, near Tokyo, four days after he escaped attempts to take him into custody. (Japan Today)
Jun 23
A 23-year-old man accused of exposing himself to several high school girls in Kita Ward last month has admitted to committing the same crime dozens of times in the past, police revealed on Saturday, reports TV Asahi (June 22). (tokyoreporter.com)
Jun 21
A doctor and medical intern in custody for allegedly drugging and raping several women earlier this year have been accused in yet another case, police revealed on Thursday, reports the Sankei Shimbun (June 20). (tokyoreporter.com)
Jun 20
Japan has posted a trade deficit for the first time in four months. The shortfall comes as shipments to China and other Asian economies plunged. (NHK)
Jun 19
The Japan Meteorological Agency says a magnitude-6.7 quake struck the northern part of the country late Tuesday night. No fatalities have been reported. Tsunami advisories issued along the Sea of Japan coast have been lifted. (NHK)
Jun 19
The Tokyo District Court on Tuesday sentenced Pierre Taki, an actor and member of Japanese techno-pop duo Denki Groove, to 18 months in prison, suspended for three years, for using cocaine. (Japan Times)