Uber launches taxi-hailing app in Japan's Nagoya

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Uber Technologies [UBER.UL] on Thursday said it would launch a taxi-hailing app for taxis operating in Nagoya, as the U.S. firm tries to expand its foothold in a country where it has been blocked from offering its own ridesharing service.

The U.S. firm said it was working with Fuji Taxi Group, which has been operating for more than 60 years in the Nagoya area, located near the heart of Japan’s automaking heartland.

The move comes after Uber announced a similar taxi-hailing app last year as a pilot project in Awaji, an island with a population of around 150,000 located near Osaka.

It has been unable to bring its full ride-hailing services to the country as local regulations outlaw non-professional drivers from transporting paying customers.

Toyota Motor Corp 7203.T, headquartered near Nagoya, last month announced it would invest $500 million in Uber to jointly work on developing self-driving cars, a bid by both to catch up to rivals in the hotly competitive autonomous driving business.

Their deal deepens an existing relationship and reflects Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s strategy of developing autonomous vehicles through partnerships.

Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Himani Sarkar