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Uber to renew push to expand in Japan with taxi partnerships

It’s the clearest sign yet the ride-hailing giant will redouble efforts to take a piece of Japan’s $16b taxi market

Gulf News

TOKYO: 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.

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. While Khosrowshahi didn’t announce any specific deals, he made clear that Uber would make a renewed push to expand in Japan.

It’s the clearest sign yet the ride-hailing giant will redouble efforts to take a piece of Japan’s $16 billion (Dh58.7 billion) taxi market. Amid heavy operating losses in the US and a retreat from international markets — “Uber has ceded China, Russia and is said to be considering a sale of its Southeast Asian business” — Japan has the potential to offer a rare bright spot for a company headed for a public listing next year.

“It’s clear to me that we need to come in with partnership in mind, and in particular a partnership with the taxi industry here, which actually has a very, very strong product,” said Khosrowshahi, who is making his first trip to Asia as Uber’s CEO. “But that product hasn’t kept up with technological change.”

While Uber has clashed with taxi rivals and regulators around the world, it has played by the rules in the archipelago, relegating its business to car hires and a ride-sharing programme for the elderly in a small rural town. The company’s main success in Japan has been food-delivery service UberEATS, which Khosrowshahi said made him realise the country’s potential.

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