• Kyodo News

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The central government will not endorse the taxi industry’s proposed fare hike in Tokyo until after August to avoid public anger in the runup to the July House of Councilors election, government sources said Thursday.

A government panel on price stability discussed the proposed average 18.7 percent fare hike for Tokyo taxi operators earlier in the day, but most members were reluctant to support the rise, a Cabinet Office official said.

Tokyo taxi operators have asked the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry to raise the drop fare from the current 640-660 yen range to 750-810 yen to cover the higher fuel costs and to pay taxi drivers more.

Taxi fares in Tokyo were last raised in 1997 to cover the consumption tax hike to 5 percent.

The official said many panel members urged taxi companies to reduce the proposed 18.7 percent hike and suggested streamlining their operations to help cover the extra costs cited as the reason for the increase, according to the Cabinet official.

The official said one labor representative on the panel who favors the increase said cabbies are having a hard time maintaining a basic standard of living at their current wages. But another panel member said he doubted whether taxi companies would use the extra revenue to increase drivers’ wages.

One committee member suggested the industry wait and see how it faired as the economy continues to grow. One problem the industry faces is the glut of taxis amid a dearth of customers.

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