(Yicai Global) July 19 -- The world's largest ride-hailing platform Didi Chuxing has teamed up with Japanese tech group SoftBank to offer on-demand taxi hailing as tourism in the archipelago nation continues to rise.
Didi, which serves more than two million taxi drivers globally, will bring its advanced data platform to Japan to help local taxi companies become more efficient and improve user satisfaction, Didi Japan Chief Executive Stephen Zhu said in a company statement today. Japan is the third largest taxi market in the world, but local laws prohibit car owners from using their vehicles to offer taxi services -- making ride hailing somewhat uncommon.
But the nation is becoming a much more popular tourist destination and visitors from China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan -- where ride-hailing is pretty much a norm -- grew 34 percent a year from 2012 through 2017, data from the Japan National Tourism Organization Shows. Didi and SoftBank hope to leverage this, along with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, to skyrocket the value of the country's taxi sector.
The agreement comes hours after that SoftBank Group's Chief Executive Son Masayoshi branded Japan as "stupid" for its stance against ride-hailing, and how it lags behind competitors in New Economy fields such as artificial intelligence and financial technology. His firm has a host of investments in ride-hailing companies, including Uber, Didi, Ola in India and Grab in Southeast Asia.
Beijing-based Didi, also the world's largest on-demand taxi dispatcher, plans to roll out the Japan services in Osaka this fall, before moving into Tokyo, Kyoto, Fukuoka and other cities. It will also add new roaming features to its China app, such as real-time Chinese-Japanese translations and local language support, allowing users from China to hail taxis using their native language when in Japan.
Editor: James Boynton