Japan lifts partial ban on ride-hailing in Tokyo, Kyoto, Latest World News - The New Paper

Japan lifts partial ban on ride-hailing in Tokyo, Kyoto

From April 1, the Japanese authorities will lift a partial ban on ride-hailing services and allow private-hire cars to operate in four places, including Tokyo and Kyoto, as part of efforts to plug a shortage of taxi drivers in the country.

Japanese newspaper The Mainichi Shimbun on April 1 reported that ride-hailing will also be made available in parts of Sapporo, Osaka, Sendai, Saitama, Kobe, Hiroshima and Fukuoka from as early as May.

Japan has long banned services that allow private-hire drivers to serve as unofficial cabbies.

However, calls have grown recently from members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and former prime minister Yoshihide Suga to expand the ride-hailing market because of a shortage of taxis in tourist spots and rural places.

The ban will now be partially lifted, allowing drivers with their own private vehicles to offer taxi services during specified days and hours, provided they are managed by a local taxi company.

Ride-hailing is now available daily in 23 Tokyo wards, and the cities of Kyoto, Musashino and Mitaka. The service will also be available on Fridays and weekends for the Keihin region centred on Yokohoma, and on Fridays and Saturdays in the Nagoya region.

Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism also plans to expand the services to other parts of the country on Fridays and Saturday evenings, when taxis are in short supply.

Under the ride-hailing system, drivers will be required to renew their permit once every two years, and customers will be able to use only cashless modes of payment.

Talks are ongoing on whether to lift the ban completely on ride-hailing services like Uber, a platform that links up private car owners directly with customers looking for a ride.