Fines for parking offenses involving foreign diplomats based in Japan were only levied in a quarter of cases last year because they were protected by diplomatic immunity, according to the National Police Agency.
Police spotted around 2,600 vehicles with illegally parked diplomatic license plates in 2019, with drivers not paying fines in about 75% of cases, an NPA official told the Diet on Thursday.
In 2018, parking infractions involving vehicles with diplomatic license plates stood at 3,948, the NPA official added. On Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry issued 1,982 special license plates for diplomats stationed in Japan, according to the ministry.
The NPA official said it was difficult to collect fines from diplomats as they enjoy immunity based on the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
Police collected fines in around 81% of parking violations committed by ordinary drivers in the country in 2019, he added.
Opposition MK Shinkun Haku, who asked about the numbers at a session of the House of Advisors’ Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, called non-payment a “big problem” and criticized the offenders.
Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told the meeting that the parking infractions were “extremely regrettable” and that his ministry would continue to warn foreign diplomats in Japan to obey traffic rules in the country.
However, the foreign minister did not respond directly when Haku, a member of the main opposition party, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, offered to the government to disclose the names of the countries involved or to request the return of the license plates. ‘registration in the case of repeat offenders. .