Why are Japanese vehicles in better condition and less expensive?
Driving is expensive
In Japan not everyone drives a car. This is because driving can be expensive. Gasoline is more expensive here than in any country so just starting up your car will cost you more. On top of that there are very expensive toll roads that connect cities or parts of cities. Probably the most overlooked is the cost of parking. You are not even allowed to own a car unless you rent a parking spot. This can cost anywhere from 10000 – 25000 yen per month. Next is insurance which is not really that expensive (5000 yen per month). And last is the big killer shakken. This is a vehicle check to make sure your vehicle is road worthy. By law anything that is wrong with your vehicle must be replaced or fixed. This sounds realistic until you see the price. You will pay 120000 – 160000 yen for a mid size car every two years. This price is dependant on the engine size so a bigger engine will cost more as well.
Driving can be inconvenient
In Japan there are commuter trains and busses. The trains come every 3 – 6 minutes in the peak times and can transport you much faster than a car can. The vast majority of businesses in Japan are within a 10 minute walk from the train stations. In these business districts the price for parking is another 20000 yen per month so driving costs more. Because people can get to work faster and cheaper by train and bus, there is no need to take a car.
People don’t like old things
In Japan there is a mentality that old things are garbage. People discard anything that looks old and this has been going on for decades. A good example is houses. Here in Japan many houses are torn down when they reach 30 – 35 years old. People will tear down their house and re-build. This is common in bigger cities where the land value is much higher than the house. This mentality is the same for cars too. An old car loses it's value because people just don’t want something old. I get told all the time that people want new cars because their 5 year old car is too old. This has always been funny for me since all my cars have been older than me.
Older cars are more expensive
Most people who own old cars do it because they love the car, no because it is cheap to run. Mechanic shops charge much higher fees in Japan because the only people who consistently repair these old cars are turners or enthusiasts. With less demand for repairs, and low vehicle worth it is better to sell the vehicle. Vehicles older than 13 years old have to pay an extra 10%. Many vehicles up for auction will have no shakken. Some people will say that these are unfit for the road and so are being sold at a loss. This is not really the case. People are unwilling to spend 150000 yen + repairs if the vehicle is worth 100000 yen. That makes sense to me.