Photo/IllutrationPeople check out Australian Nathan Swift's Toyota 86 sports car with Japanese-inspired license plates. (Provided by Nathan Swift)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

SYDNEY--For an accessory to make his Toyota Motor Corp. 86 sports car feel right at home here, Nathan Swift ordered a personalized license plate bearing kanji characters.

“The Japanese plates really suit a Japanese car,” said Swift, 21, a college student. “My friends and family absolutely loved it and were all amazed I was able to get them. I will definitely keep the ‘SWIFT’ plate forever, regardless of car.”

Personalized car license plates with kanji characters are popular in Australia, with almost 5,000 sets of such plates having been sold in the country.

Many of the car owners like Swift are installing them onto their Japanese vehicles.

The plates of Swift, who lives in Sydney, the capital of the state of New South Wales (NSW), bear kanji and hiragana characters stating “Japan's domestic market” in green letters on a white background.

Other NSW models sport black letters on a yellow background, which is similar to the design that is put on minivehicles in Japan.

More designs of such plates are available. One carries a kanji of "car" and characters of “Japan" before NSW, whose meaning is mysterious though.

In Australia, car owners are allowed to put personalized plates with standard designs or colors onto their vehicles. But plates with a Japanese flavor are available only in NSW and the state of Victoria, whose populations are the largest in the country and the second largest, respectively.

Australia has a population of 25 million, and the two states account for almost 60 percent.

In Victoria, whose capital is Melbourne, personalized plates with the katakana characters of “Victoria" are available.

The price for a set of the special plates for the front and back of a vehicle is 495 Australian dollars (36,000 yen, or $335) in Victoria and 310 Australian dollars in NSW when car owners order them for their new license number.

In Victoria, 2,200 sets of plates have been sold in four years since the launch, and in NSW, 2,700 sets have been sold over three years.