• Kyodo

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The Fukuoka District Court on Tuesday ruled that it is illegal for the government to order a taxi firm to raise its prices to prevent excessive price-cutting competition.

The court decided in favor of Blue Zoo Co., a Fukuoka-based taxi operator that claimed it should be allowed to offer low prices.

“The government is not being rational as it is setting a price rate without taking into account the prices and business conditions of the taxi firm in any way,” said presiding Judge Akihito Katayama. “It is an overstepping of discretionary power and it is illegal.”

According to the transport ministry, similar lawsuits have been filed nationwide, out of which rulings on three cases, handed down by the Aomori District Court and the Osaka High Court, were against the government. The Fukuoka District Court ruled against the government in a lawsuit filed by another taxi firm, and the government has appealed to a higher court.

According to the latest ruling, in February 2014 the Kyushu District Transport Bureau set the minimum base fare for a midsize taxi at ¥670 up to 1.6 km. Blue Zoo had been offering a ¥310 fare up to 850 meters, and the bureau had been asking the firm to raise the rate.

The bureau said it will examine the ruling thoroughly and consider what actions to take.

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