Due to Japan’s laws against ride-sharing services and also due to the ease and fairness of Japan’s taxi system, it’s not surprising that Uber has had a hard time trying to crack the Japanese market. However it seems that Uber might have finally caught a break and has launched a new program in the country, although not necessarily in the capacity you might think.

Uber has recently been approved by the Japanese government to launch a taxi-hailing pilot program. As the name suggests, this isn’t the traditional Uber setup which involves regular people picking passengers up. Instead it will see Uber team up with 20 local taxi companies to provide rides to customers who request them.

The pilot program will be initially limited to Awaji and is expected to last through March 2019. Uber already operates in Japan, albeit in a limited capacity and also via UberEats which provides takeaway delivery service in four Japanese cities. According to Brooks Entwistle, Uber’s Chief International Business Officer, “As we join forces with local taxi companies and the Awaji district administration office, we will work together to enrich the product offerings of what will be the first initiative of its kind in Japan to meet the local needs.”

In a way it is a bit ironic as Uber in most parts of the world that it operates in has replaced the need for taxis, which for some markets can be expensive and also scammy, so for them to work with taxi companies in Japan is an interesting choice.

Filed in Transportation. Read more about Japan and Uber.

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