Story and Photos by MC3 Jacob Smith, PAO, NAF Atsugi
Atsugi, Japan - Japanese citizens and U.S. forces stationed in Japan must pay an annual road tax for the fiscal year starting April 1st. In order to combat the difficulties associated with the language barrier, staff from the Prefecture Tax Office will once again be working with the Vehicle Registration Office (VRO) on base.
The tax was implemented back in May 1971 as a means of funding local infrastructure, such as road repair and maintenance, and has since evolved into a revenue stream for prefectural government. Tax representatives will be coming to the Atsugi Convention Center (building 495) from the 23rd to the 26th of April to allow U.S. Service members, their families and all SOFA sponsored personnel to pay within the comfort of the base. For those with Sagami plated mini-cars registered in Ayase, and Ayase plated motorcycle/scooters, payments will only be accepted on the 23rd.
“We understand that it can be very difficult for those who do not speak or read Japanese to take care of such matters out in town, so we highly recommend everyone to take advantage of this opportunity,” said Yusuke Takizawa, the VRO supervisor. “Let’s make this process as quick and easy as possible so you all can get back to focusing on what really matters, taking care of your mission, families and yourselves while over here in Japan.”
The paperwork needed in order to make the payment includes the original valid vehicle title, proof of payment of the 2018 Road Tax, and the appropriate amount of Yen. After completing this with the tax office staff, the person may immediately shift to the VRO personnel who will be there to give the 2019 base decal. The paperwork needed to receive this includes the identification card (military, civilian, family member), original vehicle title, proof of payment of the 2019 Road Tax, base safety inspection, weight tax, Japanese Compulsory Insurance (JCI), Liability Insurance, special power of attorney if not registered owner, the 2018 base vehicle decal, and United States Forces Japan operator’s permit for civilian vehicle or commonly referred to as a “SOFA license.”
“I paid my 2018 road tax on base and it was very easy.” said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Daniel Byrd, building manager for the unaccompanied housing barracks (bldg. 1290.) “The lines went by fast, the staff was very cooperative, understanding and friendly to work with. I think we are very lucky to have these people come onto our base to make this as convenient as possible. It was an overall great experience.”
The tax varies in price for multiple factors such as the engine’s exterior dimensions and displacement, the type of vehicle such as a car, truck, bus or some kind of motorcycle, and whether it is a business vehicle or privately owned. Older vehicles that are less efficient may have a surcharge added, while newly purchased, there may be a discounted rate of the first annual tax for environmentally friendly vehicles.
As of June 1, all vehicles must have the USFJ 2019 base access vehicle decals in order to receive access to the base. Any vehicle on base found without an expired decal will be stopped, cited and impounded. For temporarily assigned and deployed personnel who return to find their vehicle’s documents expired, immediately contact the VRO for further guidance on how to clear impoundment, if necessary, and update your paperwork within two weeks of returning.
For those unable to make it to the convention center, they are still able to pay the tax at multiple other locations, including the Sagami Land Transportation Office (LTO), Atsugi Tax Office, Sagamihara Tax Office, and for only mini-cars and Ayase plated motorcycle/scooters, the respective City Hall of residence. Payments need to be made by April 26th, as all government offices will be closed from the 27th to May 6th due to holidays.