The reason for the autonomous LEAF's license is an ambitious goal which Nissan has set for itself: selling driverless cars to anyone who wants one by the year 2020. Most of these driverless cars will likely be electric as well, owning to the company's equally ambitious push towards the adoption of EVs in Japan.
Similar test vehicles from Audi, Volvo, and of course Google have already hit the roads here in the States, but their permits are only good in limited areas. They also took a lot of work to get. The relative ease with which Japan has pushed through its own driverless car licensing program might mean that the world's first fleet of autonomous cars will be taking to the roads of the land of the rising sun rather than the wide open spaces of the USA. Check out the video below for a better look at Japan's new street-legal driverless car.