The Japanese government is considering a change to regulations that prevent many smaller gas stations from adding EV charging stations. Japan’s fire safety law regulates where gas stations can install electrical receptacles. Currently, charging stations must be at least 10 meters away from a fuel pump. For small gas stations, this may preclude the possibility of installing chargers.
Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) is considering allowing filling stations to install charging terminals alongside gas pumps, regardless of space. The code would be relaxed on a trial basis while monitoring safety. METI will set up a study group, with the aim of loosening restrictions as soon as 2019.
Thanks to increasingly fuel-efficient vehicles and the rise of car sharing, Japanese demand for gasoline is shrinking by 1-2% annually. The country had 31,467 gas stations at the end of 2016, about half the number from two decades earlier. There are now around 23,000 EV charging stations, along with approximately 100 hydrogen stations.