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Didi makes Japan debut with Osaka taxi-hailing service

SoftBank-backed Chinese company caters to tourists with local partners

Didi Chuxing, which has expanded as far away as Mexico, has added Osaka to its international network.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing arrived in Japan on Sept. 27, launching operations in Osaka in partnership with key investor SoftBank Group and more than 10 local taxi companies. The service is primarily geared to tourists.

Didi and SoftBank formed a joint venture called Didi Mobility Japan to run the business. Existing Didi users from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan can use their app to hail taxis in the Osaka area and around Senshu, the region that includes Kansai International Airport.

Cab companies including Daiichi Kotsu Sangyo, Japan's largest taxi fleet operator, will use Didi's fleet management and dispatch system, which efficiently matches drivers and customers using artificial intelligence.

Daiichi announced earlier in September that it was installing Didi's system in 600 taxis, accounting for 70% of its drivers in Osaka.

The launch is a new milestone for Didi's international expansion. Osaka is now the largest city in its network outside China, according to a company news release.

Didi has ambitions to expand into other major Japanese cities, including Kyoto, Fukuoka and Tokyo.

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