Yeah, I laugh at how screwed the Japanese people get. They make some of the most reliable long-lived cars in the world, and they have to junk them after about 4-6 years. A real shame. Don't try telling that to a Japanese person. The either won't believe that their car will end up somewhere outside of Japan, be it in parts or still together... or they will faint.
I saw the best one yet the other day though. 8000 yen, or roughly $65. They actually took the trouble to put the price tag on the thing. I would just give that crap away.
A lot of companies buy cars in Japan (that still run, with NO problems) and export them. When I saw their prices online, I noticed that it was cheaper to buy a car from them, have it shipped across the world, to my doorstep than to buy one from a dealer in Japan. Insanity? YES!
Moral of the story, we need to keep the government the HELL out of our lives!
Oh, and as for people paying about $2000 every 2 years for a check, that is most likely an exaggeration. You should budget more for around $800-$1000, depending on the size, weight, and year of the car. Of course problems (which probably need to be fixed by a "professional" to spec) can boost the price very quickly. This is when people junk the cars. If the repairs are more than the value of the car, then any sane person would walk away. Why did my fiance's dad get rid of their last car? The headliner was starting to come undone. No joke, that is why he got rid of it -- couldn't pass the test and the repairs would have cost more than the value of the car.
On a side note related to Japan insanity... I was looking at a "professional" shops services the other day. One was a "battery test" which involved charging the battery. Another was a "tire safety test" in which a "certified technician" (usually an idiot teenager who went through a 5 hour crash course on auto mechanics) inflates/deflates (had some numbnut try that on me once) your tires according to door jam spec. Finally, and believe me I saved the best for last, is a "oil test" in which the "technician" (not sure if we should still be calling our little buddy technician, but hey, that is what the brochure says!) pulls out the dipstick, holds it with a rag, and gives it a good look-down with his own two eyes.
With excellent car assistance like this, we don't have to worry about anything!!! Just turn the key and go!!!