Report No. 85
Government compensation in Japan.- In the usual case in Japan, the injured person has no difficulty in obtaining compensation for his injuries to the extent of the coverage of the liability insurance, but in some exceptional cases there is no such coverage. In these, the government pays compensation to the injured person, just as insurance companies often make direct payment to injured persons. Then the government is subrogated to the injured person's rights and may seek reimbursement from the injurer, who remains primarily liable. Thus an injured man always has the benefit of some kind of liability insurance. Governments do not ordinarily pay compensation for injuries incurred through an accident between private persons-in Japan, the only other example is the case of damage from atomic energy-and this exceptional and progressive provision shows that the relief of persons injured in motor-vehicle accidents is considered a problem of vital importance.
The government compensates injured persons for loss of life or personal injuries resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle in two types of cases. The first is that in which the injured person cannot demand damages under Article 3 because the holder of the vehicle is unknown, that is, the case of hit-and-run driver. Even if the driver or the holder of the automobile was covered by liability insurance, the injured person cannot take the benefit of the insurance. The second case is that in which the required coverage has not been taken out, either because the holder has not obtained liability insurance, whether forgetfully, neglectfully, or intentionally, or because the accident was caused by a thief or other unauthorised driver whom the compulsory insurance does not cover.
1. Von Mehran (Ed.) Law in Japan, (1963), pp. 406-411.