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Masayoshi Son says Japan is stupid to disallow ride-sharing

Tinuku - SoftBank Group Corp CEO Masayoshi Son blasted Japan on Thursday for not allowing ride-sharing services, calling it “stupid” and saying the country was lagging overseas rivals in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI). Son has also been highly critical of the government previously when SoftBank was still a fledgling telecoms service trying to break up a cosy duopoly in Japan.

The comments reflect Son’s frustration with Japan where he built SoftBank’s domestic telecoms business, the cash engine that has powered his investments. The group has, however, focused its growing range of technology investments overseas. Japan outlaws non-professional drivers from transporting paying customers on safety grounds and the country’s taxi industry lobby has vigorously opposed deregulation.

Tinuku Masayoshi Son says Japan is stupid to disallow ride-sharing

“Ride-sharing is prohibited by law in Japan. I can’t believe there is still such a stupid country. A country that gives up on the future has no future,” Son said at an annual company event aimed at customers and suppliers.

Son told attendees at the SoftBank World event, saying Japanese business is lagging behind countries such as the United States and China in employing AI. Its strict rules have confined ride-sharing firms to providing limited services, with SoftBank and China’s Didi Chuxing saying on Thursday they will trial a taxi-hailing service in Osaka beginning autumn of 2019. Uber is also piloting a taxi-hailing service.

SoftBank and its nearly US$100 billion Vision Fund have invested in ride-sharing firms Uber Technologies Inc, Didi, India’s Ola and Southeast Asia’s Grab, as well as in other technology companies. The event on Thursday saw presentations from executives at portfolio companies including Didi, General Motors’ autonomous vehicle unit Cruise and India digital payments firm Paytm E-Commerce Pvt Ltd.

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