$5 a mile is the least of it

If you have ever had an accident with a cab in Japan, chances are you have been screwed. The reason? Cab companies often rely on mafia-controlled insurance vendors to do their negotiations. I won’t hear any bullshit about this, either – if you don’t believe me, try getting rear-ended by a taxi and see who ends up with the short end of the stick. I know a guy whose parked car was totalled by a speeding cab in Kyoto – he didn’t like how the insurance companies settled things (he ended up receiving around 100,000 yen [around a grand] toward the purchase of a new car) so he took the cab company to court. He ended up dropping the case after having his new car burned, dead animals stuffed in his mailbox, and being threatened on the phone and finally, in person, by scarfaced thugs in black suits. Of course, the police were a big help through all of this and he had to pay a princely sum for repair of the parking lot and the mailbox, etc. The kicker, though, is that the cab company apparently sent him a pretty book of coupons for free rides after he dropped the case.
Ouch.
Needless to say, said acquaintance left Japan long ago. I dropped an e-mail to him last week and apparently he’s having kinda-related problems in China now. Some people never learn (j/k dude!).
For all of you with experience in Japan, I’d like you to think about something:
How many times have you seen a cab pulled over by the cops in Japan?
In my decade of living here, I have never seen this once, and believe me, I’ve seen cabs do some pretty egregious shit. That tells me something. Yes, it does. All repeat after me: I bewieve it’s a conspiwacy!
And don’t give me that “cabbies need a special driver’s license to operate” crap, I’ve seen truckers with the same licenses pulled over (albeit this is fairly rare, too); I’ve even seen a daiko unten car (a driving service that takes you and your car home – handy when you’ve had some drinks and don’t want to pay the minimum $3,000 fine for DUI) get tagged for following the lead car and running a stop sign (daiko unten drivers also have a “special” license).
BTW, I am sympathetic to the cabbies themselves – they have a hard job and some of them do it with a special kind of passion that can change the outcome of an entire visit to other cities. I’m just sick of their criminal masters and the free passes they get from the cops. If there is any justice in the world, I will see a taxi getting a ticket from cops right in the middle of a red light district where the cops were turning hookers and mama-sans out into the street, sometime before I leave Japan.

One thought on “$5 a mile is the least of it”

  1. The one time I took a cab was when I was REALLY drunk, but knew my apartment wasn’t too far away. The sh!t you describe is just messed up….but not a surprise.

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