Like the schoolgirl, the salaryman is a versatile figure in Japanese advertising and popular culture. More often than not, though, he is presented as an object of pity. In a video by the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF), the poor fellow is unable to even commute with dignity.
‘Chair Drive’ aims to draw attention to what the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) sees as unreasonably high car tax rates in Japan. At apparently 34 times that of the US, the tax imposition means that the only form of transport our hero can afford is an office chair. The JAF is fighting to reform the system, which it suggests could lead to the disappearance of cars in Japan in the near future.
Last year, the government revised the tax system to take into account fuel efficiency. However, automotive industry lobbyists said the move did not go far enough. They see it as unfair that drivers are still obliged to pay a percentage of the purchase price as acquisition tax as well as the regular 8% sales tax. Critics blame the situation for discouraging people from buying cars.
Campaign’s view: The video is not the most dazzlingly creative thing we’ve seen, but it shows a sense of humour and gets the point across. Tax is just one of many issues facing would-be drivers, though. While driving is certainly more comfortable than riding a packed commuter train, parking is also extremely expensive and limited, not to mention that many companies actually forbid their staff from driving to work to avoid adding to congestion.
In the end, more Japanese car companies are inevitably going to have to face the facts of a changing world and explore alternative revenue streams, as Toyota is doing. At least they can take heart that they are not in Singapore, where cars are taxed at around 100% of their market value.