Japan
Page creation 04/02/2010
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An embassy DS in a "hilly
embassy area", most
probably here again Hiroo,
a posh neighbourhood
situated in the Southern
part of Tokyo, home to
several diplomatic
representations. Nice pic
(Jikayosha - The Owner
Driver, July 1960).
(Above and right) The garage of the French embassy in
Hiroo (Jidosha Dokuhon, August 1960). Only one DS,
surprisingly, surrounded by other French makes, such as
Simca and Renault. The French Ambassador's personal
car (below) was a Simca Vedette Beaulieu (Shuukan
Sankei, May 1961). How could he.   
In the '60, interest for
foreign cars was
such that magazines
would sometimes
feature special
pictorial reports
about the cars used
by foreign legations
in Tokyo. Specific
number plates help,
albeit partially, to
identify these cars,
amongst which a few
DS can be found.
Top: April 1966 in Omotesando, a fashionable area
nearby Hiroo in Tokyo. The type of registration plate
indicates the personal car of an ambassador, but it
does not give any clue concerning the country (from the
book "60-nendai machikado-de mita kurumatachi -
yoroppa-hen" (European cars you could see in the city
streets of the 1960s), by Shizuo Takashima, Miki Press
ed.) Right: the same car was earlier shot on the parking
of the Jingu-Gaien venue of the opening ceremony of
the Tokyo Olympic Games, in October 1964 (from the
book "Shashin-ga kataru jidosha-no sengo (Post-war
automobiles in photographs), by Heitatsu Igarashi,
Neko Publishing ed.)
Diplomatic registration plates were (and are still today) of three kinds (above, from left to right):
one shows the ideogram "gai", for use by embassies, another "ryo", for consulates, for the
third type it is "dai", for other foreign official representations. The ideogram is circled (above
right) when the car is used by the head of the foreign representation himself (i.e. the
ambassador, for example). The first 2 digits of the number were attributed to a specific
country. It is still the case today, but the numbers have changed over time, and I have not
been able to find a list of countries with the number they were attributed in these remote times.
Even the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who acknowledged having the information,
turned down my request, for "security" reasons; it seems to be a heavily guarded state secret !
For more about Japanese registration plates and their history, see their "National Association"
website (yes ! I am not the only weirdo around here), here (Japanese and English):
http://www.n-p.or.jp