business

Companies line up to change Japan's taxi sector

35 Comments
By Anne Beade

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© 2018 AFP

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35 Comments
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Forget Uber, time for Johnny Cab!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I guess the race to the bottom begins.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I guess the race to the bottom begins. no its called technological progress, replacing aging human drivers with safer autonomous vehicles.

-10 ( +3 / -13 )

next up; the three shells

6 ( +7 / -1 )

"The global ride-hailing giant has had little success so far penetrating Japan's taxi market, which is governed by strict regulations."

Right... which is governed by the mafia, actually, with the government's thumbs in it.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

I had an 86 year old driver last month. He was very cool and very knowledgeable.

I like dealing with people rather than machines.

15 ( +17 / -2 )

Tokyo's taxi are as iconic as London's Black Cabs or New York's Yellow Cabs. Everywhere Uber goes they cause huge problems and standards drop! There is no replacement for properly trained taxi drivers who understand service and how to drive people with care and respect whilst providing good knowledge of the city they work in!

Uber I suspect will struggle as they hate to much regulation and that in its self is worrying enough! We don't need more unregulated taxi who compromise passenger safety. I hope Tokyo will do the right thing and say no!

10 ( +13 / -3 )

"The Japanese taxi industry has been protected by regulation for a long time. However recently more attractive, customer-oriented services have appeared,"

One of the reasons we see fewer elderly homeless people in Japan is because many are driving taxis. Call me a luddite but I have no problem with ring fencing certain labour intensive industries like taxis and truckers for the social stability and opportunities they provide, especially for people near the bottom rung of society. Even if taxi fares were to drop with the introduction of autonomous vehicles, the increase in your tax bill to cover more social welfare spending for the unemployed would likely offset the savings. It's not so "attractive" once you count up all the externalities.

I had an 86 year old driver last month. He was very cool and very knowledgeable.

Chatting with elderly taxi drivers is one of my favorite things to do. They have so many great stories to tell. Sometimes its hard to melt through that frosty exterior, but once you do they are really happy to talk.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

We don't need more unregulated taxi who compromise passenger safety. I hope Tokyo will do the right thing and say no!

If people don't like it, they won't use it. Uber has been massively successful in London because the black cabs are so expensive that they are unaffordable for many.

One of the reasons we see fewer elderly homeless people in Japan is because many are driving taxis.

Evidence for your assertion? I think it is entirely bogus. And Japan has a pretty high rate of homelessness among the elderly.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

If Uber cabs ran on a campaign of respectful driving in japan, not what the j taxi's call driving, they would get my money. Havent been in a J cab in 3 years as i'm discussed at how they drive and stop anywhere with "winkers" on.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Evidence for your assertion? I think it is entirely bogus. And Japan has a pretty high rate of homelessness among the elderly.

There are over 400,000 taxi drivers across the country with many of them well past retirement age. Despite the high fares, employed taxi drivers earn barely enough to survive. They don't drive a taxi well into their 70s and 80s because they want to, but because they have to. They often have no private pension, no savings, no children to help them, and no spouse. You don't need a peer reviewed study by an economist to tell you that if it weren't for the taxi trade these people would be out on the street collecting aluminium cans.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

M3M3M3

Despite the high fares, employed taxi drivers earn barely enough to survive. They don't drive a taxi well into their 70s and 80s because they want to, but because they have to.

Probably you are correct but certainly not 100%, since I know several who have retired, have pensions, state and company, have a wife or husband because one of them is a female and have children and family too. They do it for the money. To feel still useful in society and because they like helping people in some small way.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Zichi, I fully agree with you on that. It's not all doom and gloom for every driver, but few (if any) employed taxi drivers are earning enough to live a comfortable lifestyle. The average salary for a full time driver is under 3 million yen per year (which includes the self employed who keep 100% of their fares).

The taxi trade is one of the very few occupations in Japan where older people have an opportunity to re-enter the work force, whether out of necessity or choice. I think that is hugely important for society and worth protecting.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

You don't need a peer reviewed study by an economist to tell you that if it weren't for the taxi trade these people would be out on the street collecting aluminium cans.

Why bother with economists when you can just jump to conclusions.

If you could demonstrate that employment is the only thing keeping these older drivers from homelessness and that taxi driving us the only job that they can do I would believe you. But simply making the assertion is not sufficient.

I think it is an interesting hypothesis but not one I would accept without evidence.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

I don't know, I sense a repeat of what happened to Motorola in the 90s, Japan kept them OUT until the local phs system was established & see how that worked out, ditto for smart=hones, keep them out for as long as possible. I remember people coming over & using blackberries & we couldn't but the damned units here, was crazy!

Lets watch while a bunch of local apps get the go ahead while foreign apps are continued to be kept at bay, a tried & truly BAD way to go about changes......let the mess begin!

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

M3M3M3

 The average salary for a full time driver is under 3 million yen per year (which includes the self employed who keep 100% of their fares).

There are many people in other occupations and out in the countryside earning those levels of income or less. I know people earning 1-2 million but they own their property and grow most of their foods and simple but happy lives.

Not sure why you would believe the self employed are keeping 100% of their fares. I have been self employed in Japan for 25 years and we pay what we have to pay.

The taxi trade is one of the very few occupations in Japan where older people have an opportunity to re-enter the work force,

Many are also employed for security or part of a construction or road crew. Manning the crossing in busy shopping streets. Helping trucks in and out of sites. Those companies are doing what they can to create employment so older people and as you said and I agree with, need the income to survive. Most retired people are entitled to state pensions which are low but not always company pensions.

I'm retired and receive my state pension as does my wife.

I have a close friend who owns a major garden company that employs more than 20 guys, none of whom are under 60 years and my friend is in his 80's.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm not a fan of Uber, and definitely not sure I'd trust Uber in Japan. Even some other local Taxi companies hire dubious characters - Tokyo's Yellow & Orange striped one being an example - I have a picture of a driver wielding a knife, as an example there for proof of that matter... and I wasn't even a passenger!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

And... before anyone questions why ... I was crossing the road through a green pedestrian light, when the driver turned right, and whilst I was crossing the road, repeatedly inched forward to the point of hitting me, so I thumped his bonnet and shouted at him to be more careful.. he then lept out of his car and pulled out a knife.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Compared to the cabbies in my home town (Montreal) who act like cowboys and due to which I've experienced some truly nerve wracking experiences, I'm perfectly satisfied with the sedate older and professional drivers of Japan, with their clean cars and unobtrusive polite banter.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I prefer the Black KM cabs here in Tokyo, Japan - they tend to be the most reliable, generally trustworthy upon routes taken, and don't tinker with their meters/tyres - the light blue coloured cabs are the worst in that respect... I base that comment off observations taken over a 2 year period - I took the same route daily from home to office using various Cab Companies, and the charges were wildly different for exactly the same route/times regardless of traffic lights. So in short my preferences would be Black (KM), White (Yellow roof sign - i.e. private), Yellow/Green, and then simply ignore the rest.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Black KM cabs

MK

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

What a prejudiced, slanted article.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Never been ripped off by a Japanese taxi cab. Can't say the same for practically every other country I've visited...

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Uber has just one option; the Uber Black service at same price as Japanese Taxis.

I doubt cash strapped Japanese would use Uber Black, but 20 million foreign tourists who visit Japan would prefer Uber Black over Japanese Taxi.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Allowing Uber in would be a huge mistake. Anyone who thinks Uber has anything of benefit to offer, to anyone, is not reading the news of the last 5 years.

Uber is huge step backwards and has shown serious disregard and outright criminal actions at both the corporate level, to drivers and customers. They also cannot make a profit.

They WILL dispect Japanese regulations and will eventually have to be shut down.

Japan, do not make this mistake!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@ArtisAtLarge

Anyone who thinks Uber has anything of benefit to offer, to anyone, is not reading the news of the last 5 years.

I am not a frequent Uber and Lyft user, but when I need them, they are indispensable.

Where else are you going to find a ride at 3 AM in the morning?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Uber is being kicked out of cities all over the world, so is now sniffing around Japan hoping to rip off it's drivers and customers there. Never use Uber.

Uber has been massively successful in London because the black cabs are so expensive that they are unaffordable for many.

Uber has lost it's London licence, and in other UK cities, due to unscrupulous business practices and failing to adhere to laws London's black cabs and mini cabs are obliged to keep. It's cheap because it doesn't pay the driver's properly, doesn't do obligatory criminal checks on drivers (there are numerous complaints about sexual assaults by Uber drivers), doesn't check insurance, lies on it's apps that a driver is nearby so customers don't look elsewhere, thinks that UK empkoyment laws doesn't apply to them. They are exploitative and mendacious. I'd rather pay a bit more knowing I was safer than in an Uber.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

There are plenty of "white taxis" is Japan and for long distances regualar taxi drivers will negotiate a price so getting a ride is not as bad as in other countires. The government has no business whatsoever in limiting how many businesses enter a sector, if 50 new companies want to offer hair cuts for cash or rides for cash, let them.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Uber could be a great replacement to all Taxi companies, but they are here simply to make a quick buck.

Rider security could be easily ensured.... but Uber and all, YES, all it's competitors havent figured it out yet... Uber should really be kicked out completely of all areas they're involved in, they are not trustworthy and a disgrace to all communities.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Using Uber and others makes only sense if they are cheaper than the taxi mafia roaming the streets. Do you really think 760 yen to get the door open is cheap? If there are so many of them charing so much let be some competition there. I have no sympathy for them, if they charge so much, let them suffer too.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Japan has best taxi service in world.Yes, it's expensive but it has a class of its own.UBER is a sistater that will bleed , like it does everywhere else and try disrupt the business for Japanese companies.UBER is greedy and stupid company.Japan should have never allowed it here.China threw them out in less than a year, as they are useless and pathetic service.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"One of the reasons we see fewer elderly homeless people in Japan is because many are driving taxis. Call me a Luddite but I have no problem with ring fencing certain labour intensive industries like taxis and truckers for the social stability and opportunities they provide, especially for people near the bottom rung of society".

M3M3M3, you are absolutely right. I see Uber as a pirate, and Japan would do well to protect its citizens against them. They've caused big problems for taxi drivers in Melbourne who have paid big money for their licenses, with a view to selling them at a profit eventually to help fund their retirement, only to find their investments slipping away in a deregulated industry. Keep them out!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There we go again...

Just so a minority made of executives at Uber, paying themselves first until nothing is left or fund managers, who got in early, can make more millions we are going to let those predators destroy a perfectly functioning and affordable service that also doubles as a sort of welfare for the many oyajis driving cabs.

The taxi system in Japan is second to none, leave it as it is, only improve online booking.

The h*ll with those companies and their capitalist greed. Bring in intelligent protectionism.

And if ever you can’t resist the “technological progress” this promises, let a 100% Japanese company do it, at least they’ll pay a higher tax rate here and give back to the community.

I’m a foreigner btw before you start hyperventilating....

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I use taxis a few times a month and I think the age of drivers is getting ridiculously high and dangerous in Japan. One taxi I was in was nearly sideswiped by a big truck as the guy raced through an intersection and this could have been a life ending accident. On another trip back from Narita the elderly driver could not lift my suitcase, and proceeded to go as high as 130 km/hour on the highway which is far above what I usually drive at and quite unnerving. I do not think Uber will necessarily help this as in the States Uber drivers come off as quite easy going, driving while looking at their app, one lady drove with her left leg up on the seat, etc.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

 I was crossing the road through a green pedestrian light, when the driver turned right, and whilst I was crossing the road, repeatedly inched forward to the point of hitting me, so I thumped his bonnet and shouted at him to be more careful.. he then lept out of his car and pulled out a knife.

@UlsterBoy, I had something similar happen to me when a taxi driver, looking at his phone on the side of the road, suddenly swerved right into my bicycle. I did what you did and when I reached the next red light, he had jumped out at me and grabbed me from behind, throwing me into a fence.

He called the police and when they arrived they didn't want to hear anything about what he had done, and only wanted to admonish me for touching his car.

I blame the ridiculous sleep deprivation that taxi drivers have to endure. They can maintain just enough self-control to be nice to their passengers, but they treat everyone else around them with aggression and anger, both when driving and when not driving.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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