The Japanese and Chinese giants are teaming up to bring a ride-hailing service to Japan, reports Bloomberg. The new service will be called Didi Mobility Japan and will start trials this year in Osaka. Those trials will be followed by trials Tokyo, Kyoto, Fukuoka, and Okinawa. Though ride-hailing services are booming in other parts of the world, they have been slow to catch on in Japan. That’s because it is illegal in Japan for private-car owners to use their own vehicle to pick up and deliver passengers. As a result, other ride-sharers like Uber are essentially taxi and car-dispatch services.
The restriction on true ride-hailing services in Japan is something SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son called “stupid”: “In Japan, ride-hailing is prohibited by law. It’s incredible that our national government is denying the future that is inevitable. Is there a country that is as stupid as that?”
SoftBank and Didi are hoping the Japanese government changes its tune–especially considering Japan’s 16 million foreign tourists are so used to ride-hailing services in other countries they travel to. Until that happens, SoftBank and Didi will operate Didi Mobility Japan as another car-dispatch service in the country but hope that the upcoming 2020 Olympics in Tokyo puts pressure on the government to allow true ride-hailing services in Japan.