Hey oyaji! (sorry couldn't resist), I think you guys get off easier the rest of us. There are actually 2 taxes, each of which are due yearly. Rusty - I think people start tossing out cars after that start having to do the safetly inspection.
1. "car tax" (jidosha-zei) based on engine size, a 1.5-2.0 liter is about 39,000 yen, about $350US, maybe a bit less. 2.0-2.5 is 45,000. This is paid to the local governments
2. "weight tax" (juryo-zei) which I hear a lot of people call road tax, since it's for the roads, which is based on car weight. This is often paid (to national govt.) at the same time people do shaken
The shaken (safety inspection) is due 3 years after you first buy a car, then every other year after that. At some point it may become mandatory every year, but I am not sure about that.
A lot of Japanese get rid of their cars after they have to start paying for shaken because until recently, it was stupidly expensive. A lot of books were published on - get this - how to actually take the car to the inspection station and get it inspected yourself for 10s of dollars, as opposed to paying a dealer *thousands* of dollars to take it their for you. So the dealer shaken prices have been (according to wikipedia) coming down.
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