The year 2020 is set to be a big one for Japan, with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, officially “the Games of the XXXII Olympiad”, set to take place in Tokyo.
With the country expecting around 40 million tourists annually by the time the Games come around, Japan has been working on addressing infrastructure and planning concerns early, including how much of its accommodations and facilities are wheelchair-friendly.
A government survey determined that only 0.4 percent of approximately 100,000 rooms in 600 hotels were barrier-free. With over 99 percent not being accommodated to travelers with disabilities, the government announced this week that new hotels with more than 50 rooms will be required to provide wheelchair-friendly accommodation as of September 1st, 2019. This means that at least one percent of new or refurbished accommodation must be barrier-free for those using a wheelchair, including an entrance wider than 30 inches (80 centimeters), a bathroom with handrails, and no steps dividing rooms.
Olympics Minister Yoshitaka Sakurada praised the commitment to accommodating more people than ever before, saying: “through efforts to improve travel and lodging for the disabled, we hope to make the Games a success and create a society where people with and without disabilities can live together.”
In the lead up to the games, the city has also begun overhauling its infrastructure to ensure the stadiums are ready for the 2020 Olympic Games and to make it as easy as possible for all visitors, including installing elevators and ramps across Tokyo’s subway stations. Officials say that around 90 percent of stations are now accessible for wheelchairs.
It follows a law implemented in May 2018, aimed at improving living conditions and addressing accessibility concerns for those with disabilities.
Furthermore, as of April 1st, 2019, public transportation companies are required to officially announce their plans to make their companies and operations barrier-free, and municipalities across Japan are also required to implement barrier-free policies and identify and resolve areas for improvement from November 1st, 2018.
The country is certainly making an effort to be more inclusive of those with disabilities, and we hope that more countries take initiatives like this on board.
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