Unlike Americans, who are using the windfall of lower gasoline prices to buy bigger cars and drive more, the Japanese are buying less, even with the price at the pump down by a third from a peak in 2014.
Households spent an average 13,350 yen ($119) less on gas in 2015 compared to the previous year, due to lower consumption and falling prices.
The rising number of electric, hydrid and ultra-efficient small cars is playing an important part.
Japan’s demographics are also having an impact. As the population shrinks and the number of elderly increase, people are driving less.
Combine all this with Japan’s efficient public transportation system and the result is less driving and fewer deaths on the road, according to Robert Feldman, chief economist in Tokyo for Morgan Stanley MUFG Securities Co.