China's Didi Chuxing and SoftBank Group Corp will roll out a venture in Japan later this year to provide ride-hailing services. The move into Japan underscores a recent push by Didi to expand in markets outside China, although it will face challenges in Japan, where existing taxi companies are lobbying hard against deregulation.
In Japan, ride-hailing companies face strict rules that effectively bar non-professional drivers from offering taxi services on safety grounds, and they are limited to services that match users to existing taxi fleets via mobile platforms.
The two companies said in a statement they aim to conduct a trial of matching services in Japan this year. SoftBank is an investor in Didi, which raised $4 billion to fund its global push in December at a valuation of more than $50 billion.