Here’s how the Prime Minister of Japan going for a drive is different from when you or I do it.

Even if you don’t have a driver’s license, you probably know the procedure for changing lanes when operating a motor vehicle. Flip on your blinker, check your mirrors and blind spot, and smoothly turn the steering wheel to glide into the adjacent lane.

And that’s pretty much how Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, or more specifically his driver, does it too. Oh, except there’s an added step for the country’s top politician: having security staff members stick their entire upper bodies out of the side windows of various cars in the motorcade to stop traffic, so that the entire entourage can continue traveling in group formation.

As the video opens, we see Abe’s convoy of darkly painted sedans, all Toyotas, naturally, roll through the toll gate at the entrance to the expressway (does Abe carry change, or does he have some special Prime Minister pass that lets him use the roadway network for free?). The video then switches to a different camera angle, and we hear the five cars’ sirens announcing the politician’s arrival.

And then this happens.


A man in a dark suit stretches out of the rear driver’s side window, pointing a white-gloved hand at an approaching car. Accompanied by shrill blasts from the whistle held between his lips, once he knows he has the other motorist’s attention, he uncurls the rest of his fingers and moves his palm in a firm but gentle motion, like he’s petting a large animal while still making sure it knows who’s in charge.


As the rest of the motorcade enters the frame, we can see two other members of the security detail also performing the politely dignified gesture.

▼ I can’t help wondering if there’s another staff member assigned to anchor the legs of each guy sticking out of the windows, or if they all just have really strong ab and lower back muscles.


The whole procedure takes only about 20 seconds, with the disruption to the flow of traffic being remarkably small considering the societal importance of it’s most famous passenger. And if that still seems like a lot of trouble to go to when the Prime Minister goes for a drive, bear in mind that Japan takes the safety of its dignitaries no less seriously when they travel by train.

Source, images: YouTube/trh200v1tr

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he really thinks Abe would be happier in a Mazda Roadster.