http://www.apsw.co.uk/index.php/Import_ ... mport-carsAll vehicles manufactured for the entire European market, regardless of where they are produced and what manufacturer made them, will, without exception, have a VIN that is 17 characters long. These include a World identifier at the beginning, usually three characters in length, that denotes the country where the vehicle was manufactured.
The VIN of a japanese import always has fewer then 17 characters. The World Identifier will always be omitted and they will often begin wih the model type.
Here we show examples of the VIN's of a Mitsibushi Shogun and its japanese import counterpart, the Pajero. In this example the Mitsibushi World Identifier of 'JMA' is not used on the Pajero and the VIN starts with the model type.
Shogun - JMAL049GWJJ000001 (UK)
Pajero - L049-000001 (Janpese import)
Even on models that share the same name the VIN is always the way to confirm whether the vehicle is a japanese import. These examples are from Toyota Celica models:
Celica (ST205) - JT164STL500000001 (UK)
Celica - ST205-000001 (Japanese import)