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Japan to offer ride sharing as way to explore far-flung areas

The government will start a trial in a scenic western city

Yabu is known for its scenic landscape dotted with traditional Japanese-style homes.

TOKYO -- The government here will let people use personal cars to ferry tourists and other passengers for pay in a strategic special zone in western Japan, aiming to gauge the benefits of ride sharing in hopes that it will help sightseers venture outside major metropolitan areas.

The country has allowed ride sharing in some depopulated areas, but only on preset routes, making the services more similar to buses than taxis. Vehicles in such programs also have faced heavy restrictions, such as being unable to take the same roads as public buses.

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