As Japan continues to strive to appeal to tourists, the latest news is that a leading taxi firm has applied to cut the minimum fare to ¥410.

The base fare for cabs in Tokyo is currently ¥730 for the first two kilometers, with an additional ¥90 for every 280 meters beyond that. After taking into account the comparatively cheap minimum fares in other major cities such as London and New York, and the fact that tourists often travel short distances, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism has been considering asking taxi operators to volunteer to cut prices.

The first cab company to get on board is Nihon Kotsu Co., who on Tuesday applied to the ministry to reduce its minimum taxi fare to ¥410 for the first 1.059 kilometers, thereafter charging ¥80 per 237.25 meters. This means it would still take about two kilometers to reach the original base fare of ¥730, but those traveling shorter distances will benefit.

Nihon Kotsu’s proposal takes into account not just the needs of tourists but also of the elderly and families who often need to take short rides within the city. Additionally, it’s a move that will help to combat any loss of revenue that might come after the scheduled consumption tax rate increase from eight to 10 percent in April 2017, which could see customers spending less on taxi rides.

If passed, the new rate system would cover Tokyo’s 23 wards and surrounding areas including Mushashino and Mitaka. For the ministry to begin examining Nihon Kotsu’s application, other taxi companies need to follow suit in the next three months so that 70 percent of the total cabs in the city are represented.

–Annemarie Luck

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