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Japanese can drive cars from age 18, though many don’t (many who even bother to get their licenses are called “paper drivers” — meaning they can drive on paper but don’t make use of them and don’t have behind-the-wheel experience); they can drive motorcycles from age 16.

Is there an exception for Formula One prodigies, allowing Haruka (Sailor Uranus) to legally drive both on racecourses and on regular roads?

Taiki Kou (Sailor Star Maker) is seen driving a car in episode 178. This is illegal since he’s 16 years old, correct?

(Japanese legally become adults at age 20; this is when they can start to vote, drink, and smoke. They have a seijinshiki [成人式, Coming-of-Age ceremony] on Seijin no Hi [成人の日, or Coming-of-Age Day], a national January 2nd holiday on which most individuals return to their hometowns. See episode 160 for more information.)

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    Wikipedia says Haruka is a racecar driver, even though she is barely sixteen years old when she appears. However, the timing of her birthday to the Japanese school year means she is one grade ahead of the Sailor Soldiers., since it's all one paragraph i think her Grade has something to do with it – Memor-X Aug 26 '14 at 4:40
  • Can anyone clarify this by answering: WHERE is she driving the car in the episode 178? – Mindwin Aug 26 '14 at 13:08
  • Taiki is driving a compact minivan-like boxy-shaped car on the highway in episode 178 starting at about 9 minutes 35 seconds in and lasting until the eyecatch in the middle of the episode. – seijitsu Aug 26 '14 at 14:54
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    @seijitsu I've removed the link to the external online streaming site. Please consider posting links like that only when they add significant value to your post. Try to use screenshots whenever possible. Thanks, and welcome to Anime & Manga :) – Madara Uchiha Aug 27 '14 at 7:54
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No, There are no legal way for a 16-year-old to drive on public roads.

As Memor-X pointed out Wikipedia has a sentence about it.

Haruka is a racecar driver, even though she is barely sixteen years old when she appears. However, the timing of her birthday to the Japanese school year means she is one grade ahead of the Sailor Soldiers.

And the Japanese version of Wikipedia has a annotation.

高校一年なのだが、制服姿でスポーツカーを愛車として公道で走らせている[4]。

She is first grade of high school, but she ride a sports car as beloved car.

4^ 国際運転免許証をもっていると考えれば合法であるが日本国内においては18歳までは公道では運転できない。北米版では留年しているという設定。

Legally she can drive a car with an international driver's licence, but in Japan, she can't drive on a public road until the age of 18. In the North American version, she has a scene where it's stated that she repeated a grade of school.

There is the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. Japan and US both signed this convention. For example, I can drive a car in US with a Japanese driver's licence but without US driver's licence. But the converse is little bit more difficult. In Japan, the registration is required before driving a car. (The convention says that the government can't have a test, but can have a registration.) And Japanese government can't accept registration from people younger than 18 years old. Thus a 16-year-old girl who has a US driver's licence can't drive a car in Japan.

Added: more research.

The author Naoko Takeuchi misunderstand the law; she thought a 16-year-old international driver licence holder can drive on public roads in Japan, and created the character and scene. But the law doesn't allow it. To fix the problem, in the North American version, Uranus was stated to be 18 years old.

For racer licence.

In Japanese law, there are no restrictions for driving inside private space. For example, most Japanese get driver's licences in driving schools that have large space with fake road. You can get training to drive inside the school before getting your licence.

If the racing course allows it, children of any age can drive. But (according to the Wikipedia article) most racing courses require racer licence. Racer licence is certified by a company or agency (not the government). The requirement is different between each company. From Wikipedia's example, JAF (Japanese Automobile Federation) requires a normal driving licence to get a racer's licence, but MFJ (Motorcycle Federation of Japan) doesn't require a normal driving licence. And racing course will accept international racer licences.

  • I edited your post for grammar - if I've somehow changed the meaning of something, feel free to change it back. – Maroon Aug 26 '14 at 9:14
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    This goes for Europe too. You basically have to fulfill all requirements of the destination country to be able to drive. – Peter Raeves Aug 26 '14 at 10:29
  • Great one, kumagoro – Mindwin Aug 26 '14 at 13:10
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    Does anyone have a source for the age rules regarding Formula One racers in Japan? A Japanese site is fine. To confirm: since 1) Haruka has never been said to have spent time abroad and 2) even if she had done so and had acquired an international license while abroad, it still would not legally permit her to drive within Japan, the conclusion is that she is always driving illegally throughout the span of the flashback within episode 106 (see about 17:30 and 21:42 in) until the final episode 200 (see about 20:30 in)? If arrested, would she be disqualified from racing competitions for life? – seijitsu Aug 26 '14 at 15:19
  • Is there any earlier episode than 106 in which Haruka is shown driving a car? – seijitsu Aug 26 '14 at 15:22

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