The article “Despite barriers, ‘sharing economy’ picks up speed” in the Dec. 28 edition lacked balance.

It reported as fact benefits of the sharing economy that are alleged but not proven. It did not discuss the sharing economy’s downsides.

In the United States, Airbnb has reduced apartment vacancies for year-round residents, driving up rents in cities such as Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. Many Airbnb apartments are not “shared” but are owned by companies that purchased multiple units for short-term rental via Airbnb.

As for Uber, foreign newspapers almost daily report on Uber’s various problems involving safety, unfair competition, illegal behavior and lost tax revenues. Uber has a solid foothold in the U.S., but governments in other nations — in Europe and East Asia — have decided that Uber’s costs outweigh its benefits. The issue is crucial for Japan, where the sharing economy is being touted by self-interested parties and where costs to citizens and government are not being discussed.

Sanford Jacoby

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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