The Future of Mobile

Japan Suspends Ride-sharing Pilot Program by Uber

Tim Maytom

tokyo uber driversTaxi-hailing and ride-sharing app Uber has hit another roadblock in its expansion plans, with the news that the Japanese transport ministry has suspended its pilot ride-sharing service that was being trialled in the southern city of Fukuoka.

The pilot program, which was launched a month ago, enables users to match themselves with drivers in the area who can give them a ride, mirroring successful ride-share schemes the company has run in the US and elsewhere.

The service has been suspended on the grounds that Uber is paying drivers who don't hold licenses to operate a commercial transport business in Japan, violating Japan's ban on unlicensed taxis, as well as a lack of clarity over car insurance issues.

Uber has faced similar legal problems across the world in its efforts to disrupt the existing taxi market. In Asia, it has seen bans in Delhi over safety concerns, increased regulation in Singapore, and investigations into licensing in Taiwan.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Uber disagrees with the ministry's view and has no plans to terminate the program in Fukuoka. According to an Uber Japan spokesperson, the program is a research project rather than an official service, and drivers are paid for the data they provide, rather than the rides they give.

Uber's taxi-hailing service began operations in Japan last year, teaming with local taxi operators to enable users to request rides from drivers who held commercial transport licenses.