Fri, Jul 20, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Didi, SoftBank set up taxi-hailing venture in Japan

AP, TOKYO

Softbank Corp chief executive officer Ken Miyauchi, left, and Didi Chuxing president Jean Liu prepare to shake hands at a news conference in Tokyo yesterday.

Photo: AP

Chinese mobile service giant Didi Chuxing (滴滴出行) and Tokyo-based Softbank Corp have set up a joint venture for taxi hailing in Japan.

The companies yesterday announced the plan for a service that uses artificial intelligence and data analysis on a technology platform available for free to all taxi companies in Japan.

The service would roll out later this year, starting with a trial run in Osaka, and expanding to Kyoto, Fukuoka, Okinawa and Tokyo, they said.

The move marks the arrival of a major Chinese mobile transportation platform in a nation that has resisted ride-sharing businesses and protected its traditional taxi companies.

The joint venture would mainly target the growing legions of Chinese tourists in Japan.

Didi president Jean Liu (柳青) told reporters that she has long been impressed with Japanese cab services.

The Didi service in Japan would be “inclusive and collaborative,” not disruptive, and would work as a plus for taxi drivers, she said.

“I’m a big fan,” of Japanese drivers, Liu said, adding that she finds them charming.

“We look forward to developing extensive collaboration with all industry players to assist in smart city programs in Japan and Asia,” she said.

Didi and Softbank announced their partnership in February.

Didi already has alliances with global ride-sharing services including Grab, Lyft Inc, Uber Technologies Inc, 99 and Taxify.

It says its ride services, including car-sharing and food delivery, cover 30 million drivers using the platform and 550 million users.

Softbank offers mobile and Internet services. The group also has Internet of Things, robotics and energy businesses, and is an investor in Grab, the leading ride-hailing company in Southeast Asia.

“I believe the joint venture can provide new value to both consumers and taxi companies in Japan,” Softbank chief executive officer Ken Miyauchi said.

Uber has set up shop in Japan, but has not progressed far with car sharing because of regulatory and bureaucratic hurdles. It is instead pushing Uber Eats, its food delivery business.

Uber sold its China business to Didi and holds a stake in Didi.

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