The government will allow private drivers to use their own cars to provide fee-based transportation services aimed at tourists in special zones, informed sources have said.
Such services will start in areas where no buses or taxis are operating if they are approved as projects to be tested in national strategic special zones, they said Wednesday.
Demand for transportation is growing nationwide, along with a surge in the number of foreign tourists visiting Japan.
The current road transportation law prohibits drivers from using their private cars for profit, describing such vehicles as unlicensed taxis.
But the law currently does permit drivers to provide transportation services in areas lacking scheduled public transportation, and to give local residents lifts for welfare reasons, for a fee.
The government is set to submit a bill during the ongoing ordinary Diet session to revise the law on the national strategic special zone. On Wednesday, a draft bill was approved by the transport division of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Policy Research Council.
Drivers will be limited to those who register their planned services with local governments or nonprofit organizations, while private firms will be excluded, according to the draft. If enacted, the legislation will be implemented within three months of being promulgated.
For the launch of such services, operators will be required to submit service plans and win approval from the transport minister and certification from the prime minister.
The draft also calls for operators to make prior consultations with local governments, operators of bus or taxi services and other groups. The drivers will be limited to those who hold a special license for passenger transportation or have taken a special course certified by the transport minister.