Faring badly: Uber struggles to make inroads in Japan

By Etienne Balmer

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This article is total B.S.! It was mainly Japanese Regulation that kept Uber from growing in Japan. This is typical propaganda all supposedly to protect the Japanese consumer when it is to protect the vested interests of existing businesses.

10 ( +28 / -18 )

I don't like Uber, but taxis in Japan are ringfenced and it is pointless to only talk to their representative. You need to talk to other affected parties.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

Doesn’t matter. If they have a good business model, probably tweaked a bit for Japan (y’know) they will do well here. Uber needs to be patient. Just like everyone in Japan does. Sigh....

7 ( +10 / -3 )

what Physco said.... ;o)

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I’ve used the JapanTaxi (全国タクシー) app a few times. It worked fine and can be used all over the country.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I'd say the main reason is that taxi fares are quite cheap in Tokyo, and the taxi companies have their own apps anyway. Uber would have to undercut them by quite a bit to be competitive, if unlicensed drivers were ok. Plus the quality of the taxis are high and you never really have to wait for a taxi in Tokyo at least, unlike other cities around the world

13 ( +14 / -1 )

"Japanese people don't like taking risks, they are risk averse. They are quite strict when it comes to the quality of service," said Ichiro Kawanabe, CEO of Nihon Kotsu, the main Tokyo taxi firm founded by his grandfather in 1928.

There you have it folks. The representative for all Japanese people speaks!

I generally agree that Japanese taxis are well-managed, but try to get one on a rainy day, or when there is sudden snow-fall or out in inaka and it can be impossible. In such case an app like Uber is helpful.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

A company that takes no responsibility, pushes everything onto the driver, denies they are employees, and creams the profits off.

I think I'll take the usual japanese taxi, thank you. At least I know they'll take responsibility if there is an accident, an APP would be useful, yes! but a company that just walks away from responsibility. Nope! I hope the JP taxi service changes, sets up an app, and works together to get rid of uber. They're arrogant. They were stripped of their licence in London. Uber could easily follow the rules in Japan if it is serious about setting up a taxi service.Then I'll use them.But my guess is, they were a cocky american company who got slapped.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Bubblegum, “! I hope the JP taxi service changes, sets up an app,”

As noted in the article and comments, it’s already been done.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

i don't like uber at all. will keep using taxi in japan, excellent service.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

Educator60Today  10:45 am JST

Bubblegum, “! I hope the JP taxi service changes, sets up an app,”

As noted in the article and comments, it’s already been done.

I hope they push it, more, as they seem a little bit slow on the uptake. If the service is great and the cost is the same, then I'd use them.

The only Taxi app I knew of in Japan was Kids Taxi. But I'm glad to see them stepping up to the plate...or should that be APP.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The Japan Taxi app is absolute POS and the sooner proper drivers jump ship to Uber the better..

I am so tired of those old , rude unsafe taxi drivers with those archaic gps systems that cant find anything... the problem is that Uber black cars are so rare ,so there is no choice but taxi sometimes.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Does anyone use Uber Eats? After looking at the prices I'd imagine it would be too expensive for most people, but I see the people on the street delivering so I guess there's enough people ordering to keep the site in service.

As for Uber, good riddance, they're just unfairly breaking regulations to give themselves an unfair competitive advantage, similar to how companies used to do in the monopoly and trust era. They seem to be an evil company by looking at the corporate side as well, I'm glad to see that their BS didn't fly here.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I'm Japanese and wish Uber will come to Japan.

My gfs always use them in Paris and America.

They are fast, convenient and cheap.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Uber is "struggling" in Japan because it's legally not allowed to operate here as a ride sharing service, which is it's primary business arena. This is common knowledge. Writing an article that paints Uber's "struggles" in Japan as a result of Japanese consumers being risk averse is literally the definition of fake news: there is not a shred of plausible evidence to back up this claim, because there can't be, because Japanese consumers have never had the opportunity to choose whether or not to use Uber (or Lyft, Grab, etc). Uber is not in Japan because of structural impediments, NOT because of (some widely misplaced notion) of Japanese cultural aversion to new things. This is one of the worst articles I have ever read on Japan Today.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

I sense the "Motorola" effect is in place, the market will keep uber out until local models are well established, then they might see them here.

Similar played out in Japan back in the early 90s when Motorola tried to enter the market & later the same BE with smartphones, will be similar with uber i bet

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

“The Japan Taxi app is absolute POS”

Like I said earlier, I’ve used it a few times. Clean, licensed taxi arrived within 5-10 min to my location which lacks any good landmarks, polite driver took the best route to my destination without being instructed to, no extra charges. I wouldn’t consider that to be POS.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Love it.... so many of you are saying... "I'll take the Japanese Taxi... you can trust them." McDonalds, when they first started in Japan, do you know what the story was. That the Hamburg was made out of Rat meat. Japan never even gave Uber a chance... wouldn't you think that an Uber Japanese Taxi Driver might be better than the average NY Taxi Driver. Think about it. Service in Japan is pretty good... why, because the Japanese are honest and hard working. So let me get this right.... all the Uber drivers in Japan will be from other Countries.. not Japanese. Is that why some of you might be hesitant to try Uber. I've used Uber numerous times. Never had a problem. The Japanese Government quickly passed laws to protect the existing Taxi Market... like they always do. Uber could have sucked and gone out of business... but I guess we'll never know because the Japanese Govt felt they should protect Japanese consumers. I'm not all totally gung-ho for Uber... but I do not like the idea of someone making the decision for me.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Uber is all about exploitation, the attitude of it's former CEO illustrated that. Not unhappy to see them being kicked down for a while.

5 ( +7 / -2 )


I haven’t given a single thought as to whether Uber drivers would be Japanese or not. And where I live, it’s highly unlikely that many if any would be non-Japanese. But yes, when it comes to public transportation, fire prevention for lodging places, and such, I’m all for strict regulation.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

it wont matter give it another 10~15yrs self driving vehicles will take a big chunk of business from Taxi companies, big manufacturers like Toyota Nissan Honda will be able to sell their automated vehicles to their own taxi companies at super cheap prices (even cost price). Toyota is one big J company that bureaucrats cant say no too very easily. itll be safer and probably cheaper also as insurance premiums will be cheaper and no human drivers to pay. Human Taxi industry days are numbered.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Not only Japan, but London and a bunch of other major markets where regulations are there to protect all parties involved (not just the taxi drivers).

Uber's entire M.O. seems to be to make money by skimping on all of the things that are there to keep workers making a decent wage, and keep the customer safe. They recently tried "blackmailing" Montreal by entering the market before they were even approved by the city, refusing to negotiate even when the city compromised by reducing required training time by half, and then relying on its oblivious user base to whine on their behalf. And when they didn't get everything 100% as they liked it, they took their ball and went home like whiny little brats. Everything is done to skirt rules and laws, as further evidenced by their corporate spying and policy of lying to the public. Apparently, without these underhanded tactics, Uber is incapable of competing.

So why do they even exist? Oh, I forgot. It's all part of the "sharing economy," where the corporate leaders in silicon valley milk us all dry with their latest and greatest get-rich-quick scheme and refuse to "share" their billions with us plebes. And we let them, so I guess we "share" the blame.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Uber is all about exploitation

The drivers can choose to drive or not. Japanese taxis are about exploiting the rider.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Sometimes paying cash just reduces credit card mistake hassles. Think of the guy in Toronto who Uber charged more than $12,000 for a 20 minute ride (probably misunderstood his starting or ending location as being in another country), then forced him and his friends to spend days trying to contact someone at the company to cancel the charge. No thanks to such an inconvenient customer service regime.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

More like Unter.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I like not having to worry about my personal safety when I take a taxi. In the US I worry every time someone suggests Uber or Lyft for a ride. Because it is a roll of the dice how things can go. Sometimes fine, sometimes, very rude and bigoted person shows up. And the company business practices are unfair. Not to mention that people sometimes only make a living by driving for a licensed taxi company, and could be out of a job if a part-time Uber driver gets the rides instead of them. In the US, people sometimes use Uber driving to help buy cars they can't afford. Plus, I really like taxis in Japan with doors that open for you and seat with covers. Not riding in a person's car with pet hair or other stuff.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Can anyone tell me whether or not Uber is an enterprise in the so-called "Gig Economy"?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

 Japanese taxis are about exploiting the rider.

no, taxi companies want to make money just like everyone else. unfortunately, the gov't sets the price. so the cost of a taxi ride in tokyo is the exact same as a ride in the middle of nowhere, japan.

and i teach a group of elderly people on the weekends, and we've talked  about whether they would use uber or not since uber would be cheaper. once i explained that unlicensed drivers would be picking them up in their private cars, they nearly fainted! so, yes, japanese consumers do care about saftey and will pay extra for it (because they have to).

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Japanese Taxi is most honest and reliable transportation service in the world. There's no point to use Uber service in Japan. I don't think Japanese peoples will trust and use Uber ride sharing service. Perhaps, a few foreigners will use Uber.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Japanese taxis are way over priced, and many of them smell bad because of drivers who smoke. Hoping uber will break in soon.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Hisae, above, yes, exactly!! For me though, I actually like taxis in Japan. Since I speak Japanese, I've always had good conversations with taxi drivers and never found one I didn't like. Uber might do better in inaka, I don't know, I've never used Uber.

3 ( +3 / -0 )


By unlicensed driver you meant they were not licensed to drive as a taxi driver, right? Not that they didn’t have a driver’s license. If you told me that the drivers didn’t have a driver’s license, I would be shocked, too.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This article is total B.S.! It was mainly Japanese Regulation that kept Uber from growing in Japan. This is typical propaganda all supposedly to protect the Japanese consumer when it is to protect the vested interests of existing businesses.

The article mentions there are roadblocks. What part exactly is B.S.?

I personally am satisfied with Japanese taxis. They actually stop for you and give you a a ride instead of saying "I'm going the opposite way, buddy". And when they aren't around, getting one via the app or a phone call is simple.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I do like cabs in Japan but they are often expensive and can stink of tobacco. Because there are too many in Tokyo the drivers are often out too long in order to make a living and pay the cab rent. I also like the Uber service and use it in the UK and US. I dont like the way Uber treat the drivers but also don’t like the way the drivers exploit the surge pricing algorithm by accepting jobs and then dropping them to push up the price. I guess there’s no perfect system.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

“...cabs in Japan but they are often expensive and can stink of tobacco”

i used to be bothered by taxis that reeked of cigarettes. But all taxis in this city went non-smoking years ago and it’s no longer a problem. If that hasn’t happened in your area complaints to the taxi companies could bring about a change.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Many Cabs over here are also non-smoking, sticker indicates that next to the base charge sticker.

I see a lot of posters say Japan this or Japan that but most of their arguments seem to reflect a Japan of decades ago.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I use Uber regularly from Haneda home, also when traveling around the city with overseas guests, nice new large vans generally with very attentive staff. Unfortunately due to the fact only licensed taxi operators can run the service there often isn't any cars available where I live.

Taxi's I have had varying experiences from very good to quite poor, though that is more often than not, driver dependent.

The taxi's in general are too old and not particularly comfortable to ride in depending on the drivers skill, some of those older fellas seem to be allergic to smooth driving, stabbing at the throttle and brake like they are trying to squash a bug crawling around under their feet.

And more than once I have had to tap they guy on the shoulder on a late taxi home as I can see he is about to fall asleep, I should have reported but feel a bit sorry for them to honest..

The taxi's themselves can be smoke free but if the old fella has just come of his smoke break it can be unpleasant, as can be the general smell in summer.

Rather than embracing a new income and of course tax collection business as so often happens the old is opposed to the new, and Japan is great at that, often to its own detriment, this isn't to say there shouldn't be appreciation of the ideals of great service, safety and those things that we appreciate about Japan, but those ideas have to be integrated into future looking business and services.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Taxi Companies are insured so that if you're involved in an accident, then you can claim against them. Uber only provides minimal cover whilst their App is on... and as using a mobile phone whilst driving is illegal (at least in the UK), means you're probably not going to be covered by the drivers personal insurance.

This alone, should be a case against using Uber.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

nonsense, have unfortunately been in a small fender bender in an uber in japan, nothing but professional, followed up with me multiple times as did their insurance company, and refunded the fare of course too.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Only had great experiences with Uber but not so with taxi drivers in Japan....

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Never had a chance to use Uber. So far only good experiences with J-Taxis but I mostly used them for trips to Clients, etc and limited private use.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

To me,

Both Uber and airBNB are parasitic organisations which should be outlawed. Actually in most countries they are basically illegal or trying to exploit grey zones.

They are irresponsible and immoral

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Remember, Uber was conceived in the US with the idea to be better, faster and cheaper. This is something most of the developed world already has.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I really can't wait for the chance to chaffeur people around ( foreign tourists) without the heavy cost of getting a taxi license.  And i wanna break their pimpy system by registering car 1 and showing up in car 2...let me elaborate: car one is your standard run of the mill Japancar, whereas car 2 is my Bentley, ha!  Now just imagine that you are out front that cool cafe with your crazy girl/guy and i pull up- rather a heavenly Bentley does- and next your gonna get in a fight with me because i'm now asking for cash upfront?  No you won't- not if you wanna keep that chick hangin' off your shoulder...Ha!  Down with pimpubber  or Pooper or whatever else they should be called

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

We have moved to Melbourne, Australia 20 - year ago and Melbourne was a beautiful city and good weather. You can have three seasons in one day.

I found most of the Taxi drivers in Australia are dishonest and most of them cheating the route and the fair. So the Taxi users in Australia have always complained about Taxi drivers.

Now some of state Governments have allowed Uber to operate in their States. However, the Uber has a bad reputation for sexual assault and some drivers were convicted ofrape and robbery in Sydney and Melbourne. Some have suggested don't travel alone with Uber driver. Also Most of Uber drivers are former Taxi drivers. One Taxi driver taught me about how to get fare cheaper than they charged. Tell them Taxi driver don't worry about meter and tell him how much taxi fare cost the last time you travel. The Taxi driver will accept your offer and put money into his pocket. The Taxi driver steals money from the owner and he will drive to your destination by fastest route. I drive my car and I don't need to use Taxi or Uber.

In Japan, we mostly use public transport like JR and rarely used Taxi but Taxi service is very good. You can tell Japanese Taxi service is the word most honest and best taxi service in the world.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

10-15 years ago the same was told about LCC, that there are not safe, do not offer any service or do not offer flight frequency. Now you book any of those LCC flights and they will be mostly full which means that demand is there and people want to use it. The same with Uber or Grab but of course bureaucrats know better....

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Well, it seem Uber have lost their case in the EU. They are deemed to be a transport company and not a tech company.

After the murder of an Embassy worker in Lebanon by an UBER driver, I'm glad they'll be seen nothing more than a transport service that uses an APP. Nothing more and nothing less, people see them as a transport company, as an app is no different than picking up a phone, talking to someone, and ordering a taxi. The method may be different, but the results are the same.

Even London has told Uber they'd have to change.

The comparison between a LCC and Uber is different because they are regulated by the air transport authorities, where as UBER just aren't regulated.

Glad they got a slap by Japan and the EU, until they sort out their stuff,I won't support them.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It never occurred to me that the tobacco smell might just be the driver. These guys must really smoke a lot of tabs.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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