Japan Press Service Co., Ltd. is the only news agency providing information of progressive, democratic movements in Japan

Deregulation has meant income losses and more accidents for taxi drivers

Since the government deregulation on taxis in February 2002, the number of taxis increased, forcing drivers to work longer hours for smaller wages, with more traffic accidents involved.

This revelation was made through a field survey by the All Japan Automobile Transport Workers' Union (Jikosoren).

A taxi driver who was standing by at midnight of October 11 in Tokyo complained, "There are too many taxis for the declining number of fares!"

The 64-year old man with a 38 year career in the business said that his annual income has declined by 50 percent. He said, "I have to manage on 300,000 yen a month, without bonuses. My income is smaller than that of my daughter."

His work hours are set from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. the next day. During his twelve duties of work per month, however, he used to work literally 24 hours non-stop. He said that an 18-hour operation a day could earn a day's income before, but today it demands a 24-hour operation.

The 2002 deregulation on new entries, increases in the number of cars, and fares has caused an imbalance between supply and demand, thus resulting in overcompetition.

Taxi companies shifted the burden of overcompetition onto taxi drivers, who have no choice but to work long hours without sleep.

In Sendai City in Miyagi Prefecture, 69 taxi drivers filed a lawsuit against the government, demanding it pay them about 100 million yen in compensation for the loss of their income due to the government policy.

As of January 2005, the number of taxis has increased by 14,000, with an increase rate of 30 percent in Sendai City. In 37 prefectures including Tokyo, taxi drivers' income is lower than the level of basic social security standards.

On the other hand, the number of traffic accidents involving taxis is increasing. In Tokyo, the number is 42 percent greater than that in 1996. The increase is obviously because drivers have to work longer hours to make up for the loss in income and the excessive work leads to accidents.

The Jikosoren chair said that the union will increase its actions so that the government acknowledges the failure of the deregulation policy. -- Akahata, October 14, 2005

Copyright (c) Japan Press Service Co., Ltd. All right reserved.