Japan to Start Discussions on Driverless Transportation Next Month

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — A government panel will start discussions next month to identify issues that need to be resolved to advance the commercialization of driverless taxi and other unmanned self-driving transportation services, officials said Wednesday.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told officials who met to discuss digital administrative and fiscal reform that efforts should be accelerated to create rules for self-driving cars and put new services for transportation into commercial use.

Kishida also called on officials to study ways to address challenges related to proposed ride-sharing services, including taxi industry deregulation.

The panel is expected to draw up a report as early as May next year after discussing what kind of liability taxi companies and automakers would need to bear under civil and administrative laws and regulations in the event of traffic accidents involving driverless transportation services.

The panel will be joined by officials from government agencies, including the Digital Agency and the transport ministry, representatives from insurance companies and automakers, and lawyers.

Driverless taxi services are expected to be utilized as a new means of transportation in areas with declining populations.

Japan’s first commercial service using so-called Level 4 autonomous driving started in Eiheiji, Fukui Prefecture, in May. The first vehicle accident involving Level 4 driving occurred in the town last month, when a pedal of a parked bicycle was hit.