Photographer: Yuriko Nakao/Bloomberg

Didi Is Said in Talks With Daiichi Koutsu for Japan Rollout

Updated on
  • Taxi-hailing service will target Chinese tourists to Japan
  • Two companies were introduced by Didi’s investor SoftBank

China’s Didi Chuxing is in talks with Japanese taxi operator Daiichi Koutsu Sangyo Co. to provide ride-hailing services for Chinese tourists visiting Japan, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The service is expected to launch this spring and will allow visitors from the mainland to use Didi’s app to summon and pay for Daiichi Koutsu’s taxis operating in Japan, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. The two companies, introduced by Didi-backer SoftBank Group Corp., will target areas popular with mainland visitors, including Tokyo, Osaka, Kyushu, Hokkaido and Okinawa, the person said.

If the deal is sealed, it would give Didi an opportunity to expand in one of the largest taxi markets in the world, with more than 1.7 trillion yen ($15 billion) in revenue generated last fiscal year. The app would be available to all customers in Japan and could pave the way to broader offerings. The move may also mark a blow to Uber Technologies Inc., which has failed to gain much ground in Japan since it began operations in 2013.

Read on Uber’s struggles in Japan

Last year, 6.4 million Chinese tourists visited Japan, up six-fold from five years earlier, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization. Through September of this year, 5.6 million have visited, according to the agency.

The services offered by Didi and Daiichi Koutsu will fall under existing Japanese taxi regulations, which prohibit the use of unlicensed cabs, according to the person. Most of the company’s 6,000 taxis throughout Japan, including all 500 in Tokyo, would be covered by the app under the current talks, the person said.

Shares of Daiichi Koutsu, which are listed on the Fukuoka Stock Exchange, jumped as much as 11 percent. The Nikkei newspaper earlier reported some details of the partnership.

Didi is exploring “broad collaborative opportunities” in Japan without a timetable, the company said in an emailed statement, but declined to comment on whether it was talking with Daiichi Koutsu specifically.

— With assistance by Lulu Yilun Chen

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