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Uber says revising Fukuoka service after reported Japan halt

Wednesday, March 4, 2015 - 11:03
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Uber Technologies Inc said it was reviewing a free ride service in Japan after the government reportedly told it to halt the pilot project, a blow to the company's hopes in a potentially big market.

[TOKYO] Uber Technologies Inc said it was reviewing a free ride service in Japan after the government reportedly told it to halt the pilot project, a blow to the company's hopes in a potentially big market.

Kyodo News reported late on Tuesday that Japan's transport ministry had told Uber to halt the month-old service in the southern city of Fukuoka on the grounds that it may violate legal restrictions on unlicensed-taxi operations.

Asked about the reported ban, an Uber spokeswoman said the pilot program was aimed at helping the city of Fukuoka collect data for its transportation needs, and that the company was now"revising the format for this service". "We will continue our ongoing dialogue with the relevant authorities to clearly communicate program details and address any concerns," spokeswoman Evelyn Tan told Reuters by email.

Japan's transport ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Uber says it operates in 55 countries with services that match passengers, via a smartphone app, with private drivers. Its other Japan service is in Tokyo.

The company has seen rapid growth, but is also fighting bans in many countries across the world for alleged violations including using unlicensed drivers.

Last week, Uber announced a free service in Seoul, its second bid in a month to operate legally in South Korea after the authorities indicted chief executive Travis Kalanick for the company's alleged transport violations.

In recent weeks, Uber suspended its service in Boise, Idaho, in the United States, filed a complaint in Europe over what it calls unfair treatment in France and suffered a US security breach that disclosed details on 50,000 drivers.

REUTERS