TOKYO (Reuters) – Uber Technologies <UBER.N> launched a ride-hailing smartphone application in Tokyo on Friday in partnership with three domestic taxi firms, even as strict regulations block its popular ride-sharing service in Japan.
The taxi-hailing app, already introduced in smaller cities, connects app users to taxis run by Hinomaru Limousine, Tokyo MK Corp and Ecosystem in the Japanese capital.
Uber is not allowed to run its own ride-sharing fleet in Japan as it does in the United States and elsewhere since local regulations ban non-professional drivers from ferrying paying customers.
Eager to build a customer base in the world’s third-biggest economy, Uber has focused on expanding its Uber Eats food delivery service, which has proven popular, particularly amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Didi Mobility Japan, a joint venture of China’s Didi Chuxing and SoftBank Corp, has also introduced a service in Japan to connect customers with taxis.
(Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)