Motorcycle categories and their licensesThe relevant law for motor vehicle licenses in Japan is the Road Traffic Act. It distinguishes between motorized bicycles, ordinary two-wheelers, and large two-wheelers. Under this law, motorized bicycles have an engine of 50cc or under. As it is the lowest motor vehicle category, almost any other driver’s license includes it. Ordinary two-wheelers are the next-higher category with an engine displacement between 51cc and 400cc, including the restricted license version of small ordinary two-wheelers (51cc to 125cc). Any motorcycle above 400cc requires a large two-wheeler license. It is the only two-wheeler license where the driver needs to be 18 years old; the others are obtainable from 16 years of age.
Since any of the mentioned licenses but motorized bicycles have automatic transmission versions, Japan knows seven different motorcycle licenses in total, catering to various types of vehicles and drivers. Despite the diverse options, license holders of all the three major motorcycle categories have decreased in recent years.