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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 May 23 - 29  > Japan is testing ground for multinationals: PM Abe
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2018 May 23 - 29 TOP3 [ECONOMY]

Japan is testing ground for multinationals: PM Abe

May 23&25, 2018

Since Prime Minister Abe Shinzo made a comeback in 2012, he has been reiterating that he will turn Japan into “the most business-friendly country in the world” by implementing deregulation measures at the national and industrial levels. In the current Diet session, the Abe government passed legislation for deregulation under the name of improving productivity.

The main feature of the newly established law is a “regulatory sandbox” system under which all the existing regulations, such as the collection of data on safety, will be suspended in order to enable businesses to conduct demonstration tests and pilot projects for new technologies and services.

Ride hailing is a typical example of services which the government seeks to introduce through the sandbox deregulation measure. The introduction of the ride hailing service has been called for by PM Abe’s panel discussing regulatory reforms. At present, this kind of business is banned under the Road Transportation Act which enforces measures on passenger safety and public protection.

Currently, the number of countries that adopt the sandbox mechanism has reached 18, but the use of the system is limited to the financial industry and other special fields. In contrast, in Japan, sandbox tests are available in any sector. This was revealed by Industry Minister Seko Hiroshige’s reply to Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Kasai Akira at a Lower House committee meeting on April 11. The minister said that the ministry will not limit area of business covered by the sandbox system.

PM Abe seeks to attract more foreign businesses by using the sandbox setup which will allow for limitless regulatory easing. Abe in his speech delivered at the New York Stock Exchange in September 2017 said that he hopes that Japan will be used as “proving grounds” for new businesses springing up all around the world. The sandbox deregulation mechanism will endanger people’s lives and livelihoods in order to further multinational corporate and financial interests.

* * *

Most taxi drivers oppose the introduction of a transport service by drivers with no taxi license.

On May 23, they held a rally in Tokyo in an effort to stop the legalization of unlicensed taxi operations, the so-called "Shiro Taku", claiming that this will threaten the world's safest taxi service.

Kikuchi Kazuhiko, secretary general of the All-Japan Federation of Automobile Transport Workers' Unions (Jiko-soren), expressed his concern that an experimental ride hailing service may become possible and that many amateur operators authorized by the transport minister may run taxi businesses in disregard of taxi regulations under the "regulatory sandbox" system.

After the rally, limo and taxi drivers marched in demonstration in the rain by chanting, "Say No to ride hailing!"

Their action took place under the auspices of eight unions, including Jiko-soren, the National Federation of Automobile Transport Workers' Unions (Zen-jiko), the Japan Federation of Transport Workers' Unions (JFT), and the General Federation of Private Railway Workers' Unions of Japan (PRU).

Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Representatives Motomura Nobuko, a lawyer from the Labor Lawyers Association of Japan, and lawmakers from four political parties gave speeches in solidarity at the rally.

Past related article:
> Taxi drivers with safety concerns oppose rideshare service [January 21, 2016]
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