Recent surveys show many taxi drivers in Tokyo are suffering from lower incomes, prompting a move for fare increases, but some policy makers dispute that a rate hike is the solution.
Construction and Transport Minister Tetsuzo Fuyushiba and Hiroko Ota, state minister in charge of economic and fiscal policy, disagree whether the government should allow taxi fares to rise in a Tokyo fare zone, according to the Daily Yomiuri news service.
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry showed that the average annual income for taxi drivers in Tokyo fell 23 percent in the decade since 1995 to 4.06 million yen ($34,120). This trend prompted a plea to officials from Tokyo Taxi companies for fare increases averaging 18.7 percent.
Fuyushiba supports the application, saying that unless the situation is remedied, drivers are liable to cause more accidents, suffer fatigue, and be unable to live comfortably.
Ota however, said the issue was one of supply and demand.
Though demand hasn't risen, supply continues to grow,â€ Ota said at a press conference this Sunday. â€œCan a one-time fare hike really improve taxi drivers' income?
If the hikes are approved in the Tokyo zone, it will be the first increase since 1997, when the government raised consumption tax rate to 5 percent. The initial fare will also be raised from 660 yen ($5.6) to between 750 yen ($6.3) and 810 yen ($6.8).
The panel will convene again on May 31.