Japan Aiming at Introducing Ridesharing in Cities

‘Ridesharing’ is a paid service in which non-professional unlicensed drivers serve as taxi drivers using their own cars.  Discussions over it wasn’t haven’t been advanced in Japan due to the opposition from the taxi industry for security, while it is already common in the West, China, and East Asian countries.  The Road Transport Act stipulates that taxis called ‘Shirotaku’, which are operated with private cars without permission, are illegal.  However, according to the Japan Federation of Hire Taxi Associations, as of the end of March in 2023, the number of taxi drivers except for individual drivers is was around 230,000, 20% lower than that in 2019 before the pandemic.  So, the shortage of taxi drivers is being has been a serious issue due to a rapid increase of foreign visitors in Japan after the pandemic.

   The Minister of Digital Transformation, Taro Kono, said at the Council for Regulatory Reforms on November 6 that not regulations but people’s freedom of movement should be protected.  The Construction and Transport Ministry has decided to take quick actions steps to deal with an increasing demand for transportation after the pandemic though it is cautious about totally lifting a ban on ridesharing.  Especially in cities, taxi companies are strongly opposing introducing ridesharing due to concerns about oppressing their business.

   However, the ministry has an idea to expand is considering making an exceptional effort exception to permit of ridesharing permitted only to in underpopulated areas which have scarce public transportation.  In Kyotango City, Kyoto, utilizing a permitted system such as a ‘private cars’ paid passenger transportation’, an NPO corporate has started to offered a ridesharing service employing local people as drivers since 2016.  In the service, both local residents and tourists can use this service within the designated area through the ride-sharing app of Uber Technologies.

      The Uber Technologies side explains that the app users can confirm if the car is running the registered route right correct based on the GPS information.  As they can check the information and evaluation beforehand, their service is better than taxis’ in safety.  In order to introduce ridesharing in cities, political consideration to the taxi industry needs to be removed.


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