Uber Is Making Moves in Japan
Even though Uber is blocked from setting up its own ride-sharing operations in Japan, that isn't stopping the global startup from expanding in the country with a taxi-hailing pilot service that connects riders with other available taxi services.
Uber plans to set up the program in the next few months on the Japanese island of Awaji and run the service through March 2019. The app's test run will allow passengers to hail taxis from more than 20 local car services through Uber.
A spokesperson for Uber Japan told Reuters the company would like to eventually expand this program throughout the entire country.
It's not Uber's first foray into Japan. The startup is forbidden to operate its traditional ride-sharing service in the country because Japan has laws barring non-professional drivers from shuttling paying customers. But Uber operates a similar service that connects passengers with local car services in Tokyo, and its food delivery service, UberEats, is up and running in four cities across Japan. It also has a couple of test programs in the nation's rural regions that focus on ride-sharing for the elderly — a rapidly growing population in Japan.
Uber has good reason to pull out all the stops to compete in the Land of the Rising Sun — Japan's taxi industry is reportedly worth a total of $16 billion. The nation could prove to be an important outpost for the company in that region of the world, as it sold off its operations in Southeast Asia to ride-sharing rival Grab earlier this year.