As the popularity of e-scooters grows, so are incidents of riding under the influence of alcohol. Follow along as we listen to a news story in simplified Japanese about police and an industry group going around to Tokyo restaurants to spread awareness of e-scooter safety. We also study vocabulary words related to traffic rules and also learn about bicycle rules and regulations in Japan.
Hello everyone. Welcome to "Learn Japanese from the News."
Thanks for joining us.
In this program, we'll learn Japanese and about the country through Japanese news stories.
Our headline for today is: "Don’t Drink and Drive" Applies to Electric Scooters."
So over the past few years electric scooters, or e-scooters for short, have become a popular way of getting around in places like the U.S and Europe.
Here in Tokyo, we're starting to see some people riding them around town, but they've yet to really take off in Japan as a mode of transport.
So I think there's a few reasons for this, but one is that Japan's infrastructure for public transport is already so convenient and efficient.
That is true.
But as we will see more of them, safety will need to be addressed as well.
Now, before we go to the news clip, let's go over some words to listen for.
drinking and driving.
OK, let's watch the news clip.
A growing number of people are riding
e-scooters, which run on electricity.
E-scooters, like motorcycles,
require a driver's license.
But more and more people
are breaking the law by operating them
under the influence of alcohol.
In an effort to eliminate violations, on July 4 in Shibuya,
local e-scooter rental companies and police
visited restaurants that serve alcohol.
They asked the restaurants
for their cooperation, including asking customers
if they are using e-scooters.
In Shibuya and Roppongi, one company has stopped
renting out e-scooters
on weekends between night and morning.
Now, let's review some sentences from the story.
a driver's license.
Now read along with me.
baiku nado to onaji yoo ni unten-menkyo ga
In Japan, e-scooters are subject to the same laws as cars and motorcycles.
That means in order to ride them, you need an "unten-menkyo", that's a driver's license.
In Japanese, when we say "unten-menkyo", we're usually referring to a general license to drive motor vehicles.
We call the physical driver's license card "unten-menkyoshoo" or "menkyosyoo" for short.
But there are a number of different categories of driver's licenses.
So if you're looking to get behind the wheel, you do need to know which one you will need.
OK, let's move on to our next sentence.
More and more people
are breaking the law
by operating them
under the influence
Now read along with me.
"hooritsu ni ihan shite
osake o nonde unten suru hito ga
The headline for today's story includes the phrase "osake o nonde unten shite wa ikenai," which means "Don't drink and drive."
So the verb "nomu" means "to drink."
But just like in English, depending on context, it can mean to "drink alcoholic beverages."
And we have a common saying,"nondara noruna, nomunara noruna."
Ahh...so that's "If you've had a drink, don't drive.
Or if you're going to drink, don't drive."
- That is correct.
- I see.
The news story includes the expression "hooritsu ni ihan shite."
Ah yes, now "ihan" is a word you hear quite a bit here in Japan.
Yes, it's commonly used in the context of traffic rules.
Let's check in with Tokunaga-sensei to learn more.
"Ihan" means "to break" or "violate"
a law or regulation.
As our story today mentions, drinking and driving
is a punishable offense.
Violating "dooro hyooshiki,"
or "road signs," is also against the law.
The "tomare" sign means that you must
bring your car or bicycle to a full stop.
Normally when making a request
we say "tomatte kudasai."
But "tomare" is a command.
It's a command because
running a stop sign is dangerous.
Here are some other examples
of Japanese road signs.
Familiarize yourself with the rules
before hitting the road.
Yes... many road signs look very similar but are actually subtly different, and of course there's also the language barrier, which makes it a challenge to learn them all.
Regarding e-scooter rules, the Japanese Diet this past April enacted a revised Road Traffic Law that is expected to ease regulations within two years.
We'll likely be seeing more e-scooters on the road.
All the more reason to follow traffic rules and continue spreading awareness of e-scooter safety.
OK, next we're talking about rules and regulations for bicycles.
It's said that about every other person in Japan owns a bicycle.
Take a look at this graph.
This shows the percentage of traffic accidents in which a cyclist was involved.
The number has been steadily increasing since 2016.
- Eek! That's quite alarming.
- I know...
Bicycle-related accidents have become a pressing social issue.
And another issue is that for international residents and visitors, Japanese traffic rules can be confusing.
I mean, I use my bike to get around quite a bit, but I'm a little bit fuzzy even now on a few of the rules.
So for example, let's say it's raining.
Now, is it OK to bike while holding your umbrella?
Let's consult lawyer Niwa Hironori to learn more.
Hello, I'm lawyer Niwa Hironori.
In most prefectures in Japan, it is prohibited to ride a bicycle
while holding an umbrella.
It's considered dangerous because an umbrella can hinder your vision
and make it hard to maintain balance.
If riding a bike on a rainy day,
wear a raincoat instead.
That makes sense - cycling in the rain is already dangerous enough as it is.
It is, yes.
OK, here's another common scenario: cycling on the sidewalk.
Under Japanese law, bicycles are
in the same category as cars and are thus not allowed
Breaking this rule
is a punishable offense.
So remember that bicycles
belong on the road.
That being said, there are
some sidewalks that allow bicycles.
A sign will indicate as such.
When riding a bicycle, be sure
to look out for road signs.
Well that's good to know.
So just because you see people doing it, doesn't mean it's legal.
Now here's one last scenario, cycling at night.
Between "nichibotsu," that's "sunset" and "hinode" that's "sunrise," Japanese law requires you to have a light on your bike.
A light not only helps you see the road, it helps cars and pedestrians see you from a distance.
It's essential for keeping yourself and others safe.
So when in doubt, just turn on the light on your bike.
That's a good idea.
Niwa adds that "Bicycles can become dangerous vehicles to both the rider and other people.
So, "Knowing and following the traffic rules
is crucial to protect your life
and the lives around you."
One last thing.
The Metropolitan Police Department's website offers multilingual guidance on Japanese road signs and traffic rules for international residents and visitors.
That's all for today We'll see you next time.