Bloomberg | | Posted by Zarafshan Shiraz
Facing a shortage of drivers and shrinking options for transportation, the Japanese government is moving toward lifting its ban on ride sharing, a move that could open the door for Uber Technologies Inc. and its rivals to expand services.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced in his policy speech Monday that he would consider easing restrictions on ordinary drivers being allowed to transport paying passengers in their own cars. The lack of transportation options is becoming a social issue, he said, adding that he will listen to the opinions of various sectors to design a new system.
Stringent regulations govern Japan’s commercial passenger businesses, including on how to set fares and even where to place signage inside and outside a vehicle. Privately operated vehicles and drivers with a regular license are forbidden, and drivers must pass a test to obtain another license to operate a taxi.
The number of drivers in the taxi industry has declined about 20% since 2019, according to Japan Federation of Hire-Taxi Associations. Looser regulations on ride sharing could make travel more convenient for inbound travelers and depopulated areas that lack public transportation.
The federation has criticized ride-sharing as an attempt to “position drivers as independent sole proprietors and evade labor regulations.” In order to ensure safe and secure transportation services, the organization said it will “do its utmost to prevent the lifting of the ban on ride sharing” with local groups, it said.
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Some influential members of Kishida’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party have spoken positively about lifting the ride sharing ban. Former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, in an August speech in Nagano, said a discussion on ride sharing was “necessary given the labor shortage.”
The Nikkei newspaper earlier reported that Kishida was planning to announce that he was considering lifting the ban on ride sharing in his policy speech.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.