There is a fear that radioactive cars and trucks from Japan are sold to unsuspecting buyers around the world. This fear is proved to be real. But amount of cars shipped out from Japan is not significant. Though it has been reported that over several hundreds of radioactive cars has been identified in used car import countries of Central Asia and Russia, where their border inspections have facilities for checking radiation contamination.
Therefore no matter how strict is inspection check in Japanese car auctions, yards and ports, there is still possibility that some cars has been passed through control unnoticed. So how to avoid radioactive cars from Japan?
In order to screen what cars may have radioactive contamination we prepared for you a detailed guideline. By following it you minimize risk of getting radioactive car from Japan. This guideline based on identifying the prefecture where car is registered.
Therefore when you buy a car from Japanese exporter, please ask them to provide you initial photos from auctions and auction sheets. It is very important. Usually auctions provide two photos and auction sheet as a minimum. By checking the photos you can identify regions whence cars came to auction houses.
This method is quite simple, you need to check the number plates (Japanese License Plates) of the car. Number plates contain information on places where the car has registration (1.) It is written on the top part of Japanese number plates.
Secondly, you need to know the affected region in Japan, where the 137-cesium concentration detected as high. Here is a map of affected prefectures in Japan. Colors show severity of radioactive contamination of the region.
As you may noticed, all information on number plates are in Japanese (except Kana text for number plates of vehicles owned by personnel of American base). So there is an English translation of all prefectural, regional and city names where number plates are registered. Region affected by radiation we highlighted similarly to the colors from map.
Disclaimer: you may ignore all affected regions, however there is very small number of cars that may contain radiation even though their registration is completely safe regions. Reasons for that are two:
- It may be re-registered cars intentionally or unintentionally by dealers and exporters.
- Cars has been temporally visiting affected area. Usually these cars were driven by volunteers or helpers who drove to Fukushima Prefecture right after disaster.
Recently some auctions started to remove number plate information due to the privacy issues. Auctioned MERCEDES CLS 63:
Some cars has no number plates as they are already de-registered MERCEDES GELANDEWAGEN G500L:
No worries, here are another 2 methods to check where cars coming from:
One is checking auction sheet information. It should have number plate information. Auctions usually do not delete it from auction sheets:
Look! Front and back number plates of WHITE MERCEDES CLS 63 are with some kind of grey censor bars, however information from Auction Sheet still contains actual information of plates. The car is from 春日部 (Saitama Prefecture) and here is full License Plates data:
春日部 301 ふ 3523
By the way, based on this information we have actually generated an image and this is how number plates were looked on the car:-)
You can also generate any number plate you like. Here is a link.
In case you want Aluminum replica of Japanese number plates we recommend you this product:
Ok. There is second method. For that we need to have copy of the Export Certificate for the car. All Car Exporters must have Export Certificates for the car, if the Exporter does not have the Export certificate, the vehicle cannot be exported from Japan. Some Exporters may not give you color copy of original document but they can provide you black/white copy.
Export Certificate is the document for vehicle de-registration, the Japanese equivalent of a title. It is very useful document and contains a lot of vital information. (For example, mileage. The mileage is totally genuine on it. However the mileage on the auction sheet can be higher then that on the export certificate. But not less then what is on the export certificate.)
Based on above Export Certificate we see the “Latest Number Plate Data” and we identified that car was registered in Chiba Prefecture (千葉) . This car was actually radiation over! It was first bought at JU CHIBA and later resold in USS TOKYO
So now you know how to read number plates and can identify safe and dangerous cars.
If you bought already a car and not sure on safety of the car, please check radiation by Geiger counter. This one is very accurate and used by car auctions and car dealers:
Here is a places on the car that you need to check first:
If you have questions or comments please leave below.