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Taxi companies seeking more equitable treatment

Date Posted: 2005-01-13

Amidst reports and allegations of wrongdoing between certain taxi companies and organized crime gangs, Okinawa’s five taxi operator associations are banding together in search of fair treatment.

All taxi operators within Okinawa Prefecture belong to one of five taxi associations, which represent their interests in governmental matters. Recent reports have identified sweetheart deals between certain taxi drivers and select taxi companies who make payoffs in order to get the best taxi pickup points. Those revelations have led to demands for an end to corruption involving the taxi companies.

The Prefecture Taxi Association, with 2,437 taxis, is joining with Chubu Okinawa Taxi Association, 1,073 taxis, Hokubu Okinwaa Taxi Association, 182 taxis, Miyako Taxi Association, 167 taxis, and Yaeyama Taxi Association, 272 taxis. Together they’ve agreed to fight injustices against their drivers.

Prefecture Taxi Association Chairman Ijuu Seezen says “we have too many problems. We have to make a new generation, and get credit from customers while getting new ones.” Special regulations govern Okinawa taxi drivers, and association leaders say they’re the responsibility to reeducate drivers.

“Because of all the problems that have happened,” says one, “taxi drivers have no manners, or drivers refuse to take short distance customers. We need to educate the taxi drivers on manners, being tour guides, providing services for senior citizens, and assisting disabled people.” He notes that citizens are watching taxi drivers carefully, looking for increases in hospitality and service.

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