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Uber's Tokyo chief keen to clear Japan's hurdles

Uber begins offering its ride-hailing service in a limited area of Kyoto Prefecture.

TOKYO -- The stunning growth of Uber Technologies owes much to the global rise of the "sharing economy." But while the U.S. ride-hailing company is thriving in many countries, it is having difficulty gaining traction in Japan. 

There's a good reason for that: The use of private cars for paid transportation services -- Uber's bread and butter -- is prohibited in Japan except for areas with little public transport infrastructure. Japan is known for being slow to embrace innovative but unfamiliar services from abroad. But Uber is working with local authorities to achieve a breakthrough. That happened on a small scale in May, when the company began offering its ride-hailing service in a limited area of Kyoto Prefecture, in western Japan.

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