Tokyo — Uber may be shredding business models for taxi companies the world over, but it is struggling to make inroads in Japan, where risk-averse passengers prefer to stick to their high-quality traditional taxi service. Japan, with its wealthy customer base and megacities such as Tokyo, should present rich pickings for Uber. In 2015, the national market for taxis had a turnover of ¥1.73-trillion (R199bn), according to transport ministry data. There are 50,000 taxis in Tokyo alone — instantly recognisable with their polished exteriors and doors that open automatically to let customers board effortlessly. And with hailing a taxi rarely taking more than a few seconds in the major cities, there has been sluggish take-up of Uber. "Japanese people don’t like taking risks, they are risk averse. They are quite strict when it comes to the quality of service," said Ichiro Kawanabe, CEO of Nihon Kotsu, the main Tokyo taxi company. Given this, "when Uber tried to messily enter the market, no o...

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