'No dogs allowed': Why one service dog was refused entrance to these restaurants in Japan

By Meg Murphy, RocketNews24

It was Saturday, October 3 when a hearing-impaired woman and her service dog, a hearing dog for the deaf, attended an event promoting the awareness of service dogs at the Hankyu department store at Hankyu-Umeda Station in Osaka. After the event, the unnamed woman, her dog, and a friend went for a bite to eat at one of the restaurants located inside the same department store on the same floor as the event. Ironically enough, and much to the surprise of the woman, a member of staff stopped her from entering the restaurant, stating that animals were not allowed inside.

The woman’s friend pulled out a guidebook about hearing dogs for the deaf, trying to explain that the dog wasn’t a pet but an animal trained to assist its owner. The staff still refused, however, and the pair finally gave up and went elsewhere, thinking that it must have just been an unfortunate misunderstanding. Perhaps this was just one uninformed staff member who didn’t realize service animals are actually allowed in public places, they thought.

But even at the next restaurant they were turned away yet again…

Just like in numerous other countries, Japan has laws which state that individuals with guide, hearing, or mobility dogs may not be denied access to any facility open to the general public such as hotels, public transportation, and yes, even restaurants. The Access Law for Service Dogs was passed in Japan in 2002, just over a decade after the United States’ Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which included laws protecting access rights for people with assistance dogs.

Still, more than 10 years after the legislation was passed, there are many who are still unaware of the law’s existence (or who possibly deny access to service dogs in spite of the law).

The woman with her hearing dog and friend were finally allowed into the third restaurant they tried. This wasn’t the first occasion she had been turned away from a public establishment because of her service dog, yet it was particularly crushing for her as the service dog awareness event had just been held in the same department store and on the very same floor where the restaurants were located. It seems that maybe a couple of people who didn’t attend the event should have.

Unfortunately, this kind of thing is far more common than it should be. According to an article by ZENOAQ: “The Japan Guide Dog Association conducted a survey in 2004 asking random members of the public about legal access rights for service dog users. Of approximately 500 people who replied, nearly half were unaware of the law passed to protect these rights. Under the current access law, public buildings, public transportation, and facilities open to the general public, such as stores and hotels, may not deny access to people with guide dogs, hearing dogs, and mobility dogs.

"Recently, 100 guide dog users were interviewed to assess the current situation. 52 stated that they had experienced denial of access at some time even after the passing of the aforementioned law. Of those facilities that refused entry, restaurants ranked the highest at 32, followed by taxis, hotels (mainly Japanese-style inns), and privately owned hospitals…”

Yes, the survey was conducted only two years after the law had passed, but the fact that it is still happening more than 10 years later is rather disconcerting.

In addition to apologizing directly to the woman concerned, on October 7, the Hankyu Department Store posted an official apology on their homepage, promising to retrain their staff and take other necessary measures to ensure the same thing does not happen again.

The woman says even though she was hurt by the experience, she will continue to spread the word in order to ensure others with service dogs will not have to go through the same thing.

In addition, I personally feel that companies should be required to properly train their employees and inform them of the laws, and the government should be more proactive in establishing ways for people to file claims when they are discriminated against, and take appropriate action against the offending party to ensure that its disabled citizens are given the same treatment and accessibility as every other citizen.

Source: grape

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Just walk in! If they call the police, the police will arrest the restaurant manager or no one at all because the law-breaker is the restaurant manager. And the police can explain the law to the manager. Enforcing the law is the police function. Let them do it. Just walk in. Don't be a moral coward.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

It really should be completely legal for a disabled individual to bring a service dog with him because in reality, a dog has been de-wormed and is up to date on all his vaccinations poses no real health risk in a restaurant or other place. So it's unfortunate that public perception see things otherwise. The only exception to this rule might be a dog unable to control his natural urges while in the dining room obviously urinating or defecating on the floor presents problems after petting a dog. But all legalities aside, the question really comes down to whether or not you're a dog lover. Those who treat their dogs like members of the family are probably in favor of allowing them in restaurants. Those who don't care for animals are more likely to be against it. Perhaps the best solution is to provide outdoor areas for dog lovers while leaving the inside for everyone else.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

@Novenachama OCT. 18, 2015 - 05:24PM JST

It really should be completely legal for a disabled individual to bring a service dog with him because in reality, a dog has been de-wormed and is up to date on all his vaccinations poses no real health risk in a restaurant or other place.

Well, and it is, but as Joeintokyo said there is an escape clause. However, I cannot see how it really can be otherwise because what we have is a balance of rights issue here.

You can defensibly subordinate the resturant's right to prefer a no-animal atmosphere, to avoid the extra hassle of cleaning after animals (no matter how clean they supposedy are), or the risk of damage from their claws no matter how well trained they are. Or you can say the government will recompense for all reasonable claims on this area.

But if you get to bring an animal because you are blind or deaf, what happened to an allergic's right to have a meal without suffering from allergies?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Thats crazy. But even here in Karuizawa, where many tourists come with their dogs, esp in summer, most restaurants allow dogs only on the terrace seats. In a small and crowded place, I can understand, but the bigger places have enough tables to designate a few of them as +dog seats. From the hygienic point of view, there is no law against it, it's just because the staff don't want to go through the hassle and asking the neighboring customers, whether it's ok with them.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This is where I would like to see the judicious application of U.S. style internet justice in Japan. Publicly shame them. Post a video or photos on Facebook of the offending stores and let consumers punish them with the power of the pocketbook. Too bad their would not be enough public support if and when the same thing would be done to businesses that discriminate in other ways, I.e. towards foreigners.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Dogs have rights too. They were trained for special purposes. I bet if someone had an allergy and told the dog owner, I am sure the owner would understand. Never met a person allergic to dogs, but many for cats.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

gotta love J laws sometimes, bit like the NHK fees , you are required to pay it and the NHK guy/gal will tell you this and even give you a pamphlet. but there is no penalty by law either arrest or fines, so why would I even pay it. People need to toughen up and make a stand. If you know your right and the law is on your side then tell the so called moral police to screw it. What have you got to lose, lose face, worried that people wont like you LOL who gives to F

0 ( +1 / -1 )

In the states, the impaired individual employing a service dog also carries a card (state issued) stating that the dog, is in fact, certified in assisting its owner.

Once the impaired individual(s) present the card, they're pretty much untouchable in any public establishment.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

As for people who believe that service dogs just crap anywhere think again. I worked in a department store for many years and we have 6 or 7 regulars who shopped with their dogs and never, never did any of the dogs have accidents. The problem was parents not teaching children to rush up to service dogs and try to get them to play. (and before any one says it no the dogs didn't growl or snap at the children either).


1 ( +1 / -0 )

Service dogs are to ordinary pets what the X Men are to ordinary people. They rock. There is nowhere a properly certified service dog should not be allowed to go with its owner.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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