I have been living in Japan for over a year and a half. 3 months ago I used a Re-entry Permit to go back to my home country. I was there for a month, and since I didn't have a license to drive in Japan, I got an International Driving Permit while I was there. Driving after coming back to Japan, assuming it was okay for me to do so with my International Driving Permit, I was charged with a violation for driving without a license. I didn't know that there was a rule stating that you can't drive with an International Driving Permit.
The Road Traffic Law (dōro kōtsu-hō / 道路交通法) determines the conditions in which one may drive a car or other vehicle with an International Driving Permit (kokusai unten menkyo-shō / 国際運転免許証) in Japan. A valid International Driving Permit is one issued by an issuing body with appropriate authority in a country which is a signatory to the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, and meeting the specifications of the Convention.
The period in which one can drive is the overlapping period between the period of validity of the International Driving Permit (the one-year period beginning from the date of issue of the International Driving Permit), and the one-year period beginning on the date of the person's landing in Japan (landing date ①).
When a person of foreign nationality residing in Japan receives permission for reentry and leaves Japan, and lands in Japan again (landing date ②) within three months after the date of departure, the Road Traffic Law stipulates that landing date ② will not be recognized as the beginning of the one-year period in which the International Driving Permit is considered valid.
In your case, you have been residing in Japan for over one year, and you left Japan for a month, which means that the date that you reentered Japan (landing date ②) is not regarded as the landing date from which your International Driving Permit is considered valid for one year. In this situation, the date of landing from which the Permit would have been valid is the date you previously landed and took up residence in Japan (landing date ①), from which more than one year has already passed, meaning that the period for which you would have been able to drive using an International Driving Permit has already ended.
In addition, be aware that when driving with a valid International Driving Permit, you are required to carry your passport or other means of verifying your record of entry and departure from Japan, in addition to the Permit itself.
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