Road Traffic Accidents

Information on what to do if you are involved in a car accident in Japan: who to call and how to fill in the accident report document for insurance after a car crash...

Japan has one of the lowest traffic accident rates in the world. This is because of the country's harsh penalties for traffic violations and its zero tolerance for drink driving.

What To Do at the Scene of an Accident

  • Stop immediately and do not leave the scene of the accident (unless injured)
  • Assist anyone who needs help
  • Call 119 for an ambulance if anyone is injured
  • Prevent further accidents by displaying a red warning triangle by the vehicle if the accident happens on a highway. This is required by law. The scene of the accident should be preserved or marked but any vehicles obstructing traffic should be moved if possible
  • Call 110 for the police and explain the details of the accident (date, time location, number of people injured, and so on)
  • Obtain personal details and insurance information from the other driver or drivers (name, address, telephone number and name of insurance company)
  • If possible, take a picture of the scene and note down details of any witnesses
  • When the police arrive, follow their instructions
  • Call the insurance company. The insurance company will ask for the insurance details for any other people involved in the accident, so it is important to get this insurance information from other drivers

The police classify accidents into two types:

  1. Bussonjiko: an accident involving damage to property.
  2. Jinshinjiko: an accident resulting in injury or death.

The police file a report according to the classification of the accident.

At the scene of the accident, drivers should present the following documents to the police:

  • Driving licence
  • Alien registration certificate (if a foreigner)
  • Certificate to show the vehicle inspection (shaken) is up to date
  • Proof of mandatory car insurance

The accident report

No matter how small the incident, the police must be called so that they can file an accident report (Tel: 110). If the accident is not reported to the police, the driver cannot get a Traffic Accident Certificate which is required for any insurance claim. It is important to check the police case number allocated to the accident and the name of the police station which is dealing with the incident.

Notify the insurer

It is important to notify the insurance company at the scene of the accident or as soon as possible after the accident. Failure to do this may affect eligibility in making a claim. Insurance companies often give advice to help drivers after an accident and can also negotiate on their behalf.

To make a claim, it is necessary to submit the Traffic Accident Certificate, which is available from the Japan Safe Driving Centre located in the district where the accident took place.