The social experimentation and policy proposal for the ride sharing services in Japan

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2017)


Japan, Public Transportation, Ride Sharing, Road Transport Law, Social Experimentation



1.Background: The present condition of the ride sharing service of Japan

The ride sharing service of our country has two operations based on a road transport law of Japan. One is operated by taxi companies in Tokyo metropolitan area. Another is operated by NPO without compensation in low population density area, such as Kyo-tango city in Kyoto prefecture and Nakatonbetsu town in Hokkaido. Both of service are supported by Uber Japan.

Compared with the U.S., the supply level is very small-scale and the business model is completely different in Japan. The major reason of small-scale supply is the opposition by a taxi company. At the same time, obtaining legal permission for both operators and drivers is difficult partially because of the opposition and lobbying by taxy companies. Therefore, there are only the “luxury Taxi” service and the “complemental service for weak” existing in Japan at the moment.


2.The growing necessity of ride sharing services in Japan

The ride sharing service is indispensable as the spread of smart phones and effective use of a vacant privately-owned car. Moreover, the ride sharing service is expected as a means of transportation which would bring higher convenience of mobility in Japan.

There will be the two methods of the spread of ride sharing service in the future in our country. Although one approach is changing law, it takes time considerably. Another is carrying out the operation which would not violate the existing legal restriction.


3.The social experimentation of the ride sharing service of Nakatonbetsu town

The population of Hokkaido Nakatonbetsu town is only 1,800 and it is cold, snowy area with low population density. A hospital visit and shopping needs to use cars to reach the nearest city distant to 1 to 2 hours by car. Nevertheless, the operation frequency of the public bus is only 4 times per day.  According to investigation, the use ratio of the car was about 90 percent.

In order to secure the minimum transportation service fir the residents of Nakatonbetsu town, the authors launched the social experimentation of the ride sharing service from August 24, 2016.

Here we report the result of this social experimentation and propose the method for implementing the ride sharing services under the circumstances of the complex system of legal restrictions in Japan. Additionally, the authors describe the different patterns of implementation of the ride sharing services among the countries such as the U.S., Japan and France with describing the difference of social precondition.

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