The report said that ride-hailing firms such as Uber see populous Japan as a potentially lucrative market and are pressing regulators to ease stringent rules governing the taxi industry. The aim is to dispatch taxis more efficiently by analyzing such factors as past rides, traffic and weather conditions, and event schedules. Sony says it intends to introduce different packages to suit the different needs of each platform.
Japan's taxi market can become more efficient, even though its services are already of a high quality, he said at an event with former US ambassador to Japan John Roos. In the country, non-professional taxi drivers must pair with existing taxi firms to offer taxi services.
Uber Technologies Inc. wants to forge partnerships with taxi companies in Japan because its go-it-alone approach in the country wasn't working, Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said in Tokyo on Tuesday.
The intelligent ride hailing service is due to launch in the spring, the report adds, but it is not clear if Japan is being used as a test market before launching a similar service in the USA or elsewhere in the world.
Last year the company announced a similar pause on its service in Finland, but in that case it's awaiting a specific law to be passed deregulating its taxi industry this year.
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It's the clearest sign yet that the ride-hailing giant will redouble efforts to take a piece of Japan's $16-billion taxi market, even amid signs of pressure from its biggest shareholder, SoftBank Group Corp., to focus on core markets.
The company's ride-sharing service, one of Uber's key operations that involves private vehicles, has been challenged by Japanese regulations, while being allowed only in limited locations - some rural areas in Hokkaido and Kyoto Prefecture.
Other rivals in the market include Toyota, which is partnering with mobile application developer JapanTaxi and taxi firm Nihon Kotsu on its own AI-based dispatch system.