* Japan market currently hobbled by stringent rules
* Didi, SoftBank to provide ride-hailing service this year
* Uber CEO in Tokyo, expected to meet with regulators
* Toyota has said it will take stake in major taxi firm (Recasts and writes through)
TOKYO, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Sony Corp looks set to become the latest blue-chip firm to jockey for position in Japan's taxi and ride-hailing market, with plans for a joint venture to develop an artificial intelligence-based hailing system, the Nikkei newspaper reported.
Japan is seen as a potentially lucrative ride-hailing market, with regulators under pressure to ease stringent rules.
Currently, non-professional drivers are barred from offering taxi services on safety grounds, and ride-hailing companies are limited to services that "match" users to existing taxi fleets via mobile platforms.
Sony plans to build the AI-based hailing platform with Daiwa Motor Transportation and four other domestic taxi firms, the Nikkei said.
Sony and Daiwa Motor declined to comment.
This month, SoftBank Group Corp and China's Didi Chuxing said they would roll out a venture in Japan this year to provide matching services.
Toyota Motor Corp has said it will take a stake in taxi-hailing service JapanTaxi, set up by Japan's largest taxi firm, Nihon Kotsu.
Uber's new chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, is currently in Tokyo and is expected to meet with regulators.
(Reporting by Minami Funakoshi in Tokyo; Additional reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)