• Jiji


The National Police Agency plans to move safety lectures for certain driver’s license renewals online as part of the government’s push to digitalize administrative procedures and as a way to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, agency officials said Tuesday.

The agency will introduce an online video lecture for so-called excellent drivers, who have held a license for five or more continuous years and have no record of traffic violations or accidents. Such drivers are also called “gold license drivers” due to the color of their five-year licenses.

The NPA plans to begin the initiative on a trial basis in the next fiscal year or later at one model police headquarters.

It will determine whether to expand the scheme nationwide after seeing the results of the trial.

The agency included some ¥3.8 billion for digitalizing police duties and promoting remote working, including expenses for the online lecture, in its budget request for fiscal 2021.

License renewals are conducted at driver’s license exam centers and police stations, and they have struggled to cope with novel coronavirus measures as many people come to apply for renewals.

By making the lecture available online, the agency hopes to shorten waiting times and ease crowding of renewal facilities.

Drivers seeking to renew their licenses are currently required to take vision tests and a 30-minute safety lecture.

According to the NPA, some 9.07 million people took the lecture for excellent drivers last year, or around 60 percent of all renewal applicants.

Under the planned scheme, the notice informing drivers of necessary renewals will have a QR code that leads recipients to the video of the lecture.

The video will have a simple test in the middle. Viewers will be prevented from being able to fast-forward the video.

After watching the online lecture, applicants must still go to license exam centers or police stations to take vision tests and pay fees.

The agency has asked for about ¥77 million to develop the program for the scheme in its budget request.

Also on Tuesday, the NPA decided to lend in-vehicle cameras to stalking victims from fiscal 2021.

The move is aimed at catching actions by stalkers such as secretly attaching GPS systems to the vehicles of victims or damaging them.

In the budget request, some ¥15 million was included for the plan, including for helping camera purchases by police headquarters nationwide.

The police headquarters in each prefecture will have 20 cameras, and a total of four cameras will be lent out to each victim for setting up in the front and back of vehicles, agency officials said.