U.S. Paralympian Daniel Romanchuk rides in a Toyota JPN Taxi during his tour of Tokyo in March. Photo: REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Japan struggling to ramp up accessibility efforts ahead of Paralympics

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Time to join the late 20th century in regards to accessibility. Then again, Japanese people would rather keep the disabled out of sight instead of treating them equally.

9 ( +14 / -5 )

This is what happens when you depend on lip-service as law. Same as how they used the disasters of 2011 to get the bid in the first place, claiming the Olympics will prove Japan's reconstruction efforts, but people are still in shelters. When a government says, "We are going to do this... now please do this" and 'suggests' to local governments they abide by legislation or promises, but does nothing to back it up, you get what we've got here -- a last minute panic to do what they promised, with everyone pointing the finger.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

i just saw a train station staff run to the train with a ramp to let a wheel chair off the train. I thought I was in 1950... Japan is so behind....

3 ( +7 / -4 )

A shortage of wheelchair-accessible hotel rooms remains an issue for Tokyo 2020 organizers who say they are committed to using the Paralympic Games to make Japan a more inclusive place.

I guess when you are starting from basically "zero" there is no way to go but up. Yet it is going to take a hell of a lot more than just making things more accessible for Japan to become a "more inclusive place"

5 ( +6 / -1 )

3 years ago I spend 6 months in a wheelchair and daily life in Japan compared to other countries is wheelchair hell, not because of facilities, but because of the attitude of most Japanese people. This little item says it all: "....and demanded that they pay again to convert the rooms back after the games." So during the Olympic games they want to show off how wonderful Japanese society is - asking to pay for it - and after the games they'll revert it back to 'normal' - and asking to pay for that too. That shows, that nothing is going to change, only for 2 weeks, to avoid the embarrassing reality.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

When you think about all the construction that went on during the bubble and nothing was built to accommodate handicapped people it shows just where Japan’s priorities are. When I first came to Japan I often saw station staff carrying people up stairs at stations. It’s getting better now, but it was only two years ago my local station got an elevator and a ramp. Japan’s infrastructure was not created to accommodate anybody who can’t work. This does not only apply to the physically handicapped, but also the mentally handicapped. I know someone who has to travel 35k every day to take their mentally handicapped teenage son to a special school.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Time to join the late 20th century in regards to accessibility. Then again, Japanese people would rather keep the disabled out of sight instead of treating them equally.

Spot on.

This little item says it all: "....and demanded that they pay again to convert the rooms back after the games." So during the Olympic games they want to show off how wonderful Japanese society is - asking to pay for it - and after the games they'll revert it back to 'normal' - and asking to pay for that too. That shows, that nothing is going to change, only for 2 weeks, to avoid the embarrassing reality.

Fully agree. Disgraceful.

According to the British newspaper, hotels near the team's training camp for the 2020 Paralympics said they would charge extra for construction to make the rooms accessible,

I hope they name these "unidentified " hotels so I can make an informed decision to seek out alternative accomodation for my future stays unless they reverse course. Mind blowing that after all the exposure Paralympics will bring the hotels could not decide to keep those few rooms accessible ( like say 5 to 10 rooms in a large hotel ) I mean it could give them a competitive advantage by differentiating themselves in the market place and a lot of business goodwill due to the PR exposure. As said above people with disabilities travel too and its not like the hotels cant rent out those rooms anyway ( just because they have wider doors , room access etc )... Cmon Japan ffs with all the money that gets wasted by the powers that be in this place this would be a blip on the expense radar , If Abe buys one or two  less F35 fighters with our taxes the govt would have enough mola to finance this program in a flash.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

There was a story on JT about 6 months ago about a wheelchair user being denied wine in case they injured someone while drunk.

Not only did it show the attitude to wheelchair users in Japan but a number of the commentators agreed BTL showing terrible attitudes about the handicapped.

https://web.archive.org/web/20181124124636/https://japantoday.com/category/national/Wheelchair-user-sues-over-being-told-to-leave-wine-tasting-event

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Why would Japan have a problem with wheelchair users? Genuine question. Not everyone is healthy/young/able-bodied. Sometimes people lose use of their legs in accidents that aren't their fault. No reason to make an already hard life even harder.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Shame on that hotel, demanding payment to adapt the rooms. Disabled people are viewed as an inconvenience, rather than as equal members of society.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

If it's not economically viable, who wants to invest the expenditure if the customer demand isn't there? Don't understand why people here get all outraged over these facts of Japan. You all knew what the country was like before moving here, stop complaining.

-13 ( +2 / -15 )

At least by judging by using baby strollers, cities in Japan are far more accessible than for example in USA. Hotel rooms are larger here in US for sure though.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

I am not surprised at all! Nothing has changed in the last 10 years I have been living in japan! Everyone is worried about the olympics but dang what about the paralympics? Oh wait the athletes will stay close to the games and those buildings have access but wait what happens when they leave the villages! Peak hour trains is going to be hell

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Arturo Jamilla: "Don't understand why people here get all outraged over these facts of Japan. You all knew what the country was like before moving here, stop complaining."

I understand why SOME people get outraged -- because they can't accept the facts and desire nothing but blind praise they do not deserve. Look at how angry you are over the facts! Try putting some of that passion towards making Japan a more accessible place instead of retreating into a "if you don't like it leave"-style of retort and defensiveness. You can't ask, "What do you think of Japan?" and then demand only a positive answer and praise. Japan is bragging about the Olympics and Paralympics, but the fact is they have not laid out the groundwork to ensure their success and accessibility for all.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

What was that word again, oh yeah, "o-mo-te-na-shi". Hospitality, on our terms of course.

You would think the world's fastest aging society would jump at the chance to improve facilities for the less able-bodied. Japan already has 10% more people 75 or over than 14 and younger. In ten years or so, the number will be double. Anyone with a business brain would also know that those 75 year olds will have more money than parents of under 15s.

Regarding the comments from other posters, if Japanese people think someone on the train with a backpack is a nuisance, I dread to think what they must think about people in wheelchairs.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Arturo Jamilla - If it's not economically viable, who wants to invest the expenditure if the customer demand isn't there? Don't understand why people here get all outraged over these facts of Japan. You all knew what the country was like before moving here, stop complaining

Unfortunately, your opinion is totally void of fact and totally off the point. This article is about the competitors of the Tokyo paralympics, who have limited access to venues and hotels. I’ sure your opinion would be very different if you were in a wheelchair while you are living in Japan.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Joe Blow asks "Why would Japan have a problem with wheelchair users?"

The notion in Japan seems to be that wheelchair users are people who are dependent on caregivers, who push them around or ferry them about in vans and so on. There's less a sense that people with disabilities can or should travel INDEPENDENTLY. Hence, you have elderly homes geared toward the needs of disabled people, yet you see the opposite with travel and accommodation facilities---hotels and the layout of train stations (in Kyobashi Station in Osaka, for instance, a wheelchair user has to use at least 4 different elevators to get from one platform to the other).

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Ascissor you are absolutely correct. My MIL's local Maruai Super has banned people using electric wheelchairs. How on earth are they supposed to do their shopping? Not everyone wants or needs a carer to push them around, people like to be independent. This wouldn't be legal in many countries.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Unfortunately, your opinion is totally void of fact and totally off the point. This article is about the competitors of the Tokyo paralympics, who have limited access to venues and hotels. I’ sure your opinion would be very different if you were in a wheelchair while you are living in Japan.

Competitors of the Tokyo Paralympics will not be left to fend for themselves. They will have all the assistance they need for anything they wish to do.

I'm not in a wheel chair, as luck would have it, but I do require the use of a cane. Again, I don't expect Japan to do an about face 180 and suddenly become something it's never been.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

Competitors of the Tokyo Paralympics will not be left to fend for themselves. They will have all the assistance they need for anything they wish to do.

Great. And it's a good thing that only able-bodied people watch the Paralympics then. Or will they be providing assistance to the attendees as well?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Uh, you do realize this whole article is about how under-prepared Japan is for the Paralympics right? Do you think athletes can wait until one month before and suddenly book accommodation? These things are normally arranged much more than a year in advance & there are only 14 months left. That's not to mention any physically disabled spectators who are also looking for hotels.

If Japan is so underprepared, as you think, and there are literally no accommodations to be found for the Paralympic athletes, then every Country participating and their respective Paralympic heads would easily be able to forward their concerns. There are plenty of accommodations to be found which can handle those in wheelchairs.

Spectators on the other hand, that's not Japan's problem.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Great. And it's a good thing that only able-bodied people watch the Paralympics then. Or will they be providing assistance to the attendees as well?

The attendees should do some research. If they feel they won't be able to survive here without massive hurdles, perhaps they should rethink their trip. For Christs sake, just because you want to visit Tibet and you are wheel chair bound, doesn't mean Tibet is going to build infrastructure to accommodate you.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

The attendees should do some research. If they feel they won't be able to survive here without massive hurdles, perhaps they should rethink their trip.

Have a Paralympics and don't accommodate the paralyzed.

I think they just heard my facepalm echo around the world.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

They should at least focus upon the Public transport system - sort out proper routes for wheelchair users, at the moment a wheelchair user can take an elevator and be faced with an obstacle such as a set of stairs at the other end - leaving no other option other than to backtrack and find another way out! (Regardless Subway/Over ground Station).

At present there's no clear entrance/exit labeling for mobility disadvantaged persons.. just pot luck if you get it right in some cases. The BBC Travel show even encountered this situation in Shibuya !

The situation is, getting better, but it's far from exemplary. Forget the Private Taxis, sort out the Government managed infrastructure, as that reflects badly upon the Country as a whole!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Arturo Jamilla

I understand your sentiment, however Japan can not promote itself as being totally Disability Friendly when there are significant issues that blight visitors with Disabilities. Saying otherwise is fraudulent. People should not be given a false sense of the real situation.

If Japan on the other hand said that they were making best effort to accommodate such Patrons, then that would be a different matter, as Japan has on the whole made significant improvements for catering to people with mobility issues.

However, another way to look at this, is, if you have a kid in a pushchair, you are essentially facing the "similar" challenges as a disabled user - it's in the Government's interest, to make Travel easier for those with Young kids - so as I see it, the two go hand in hand. (I was/am fortunate, since I could fold up a buggy, and carry it plus the Kid up stairways when faced with such an obstacle given I am physically stronger than most, but other circumstances have changed and the these obstacles are a reality that I am very well aware of, so can sympathise with those who likewise face these challenges - and just deal with it in the ways I have stated previously.

In my previous post, I stated that I think the Japan government should focus upon making it clear which routes people should take if they have mobility issues. You could at bare minimum setup a follow the Blue arrows route around station vicinities - pointing you towards an elevator which would take you to a barrier free route to the Station's ticket gates. This wouldn't cost much, but would help enormously. The addition of a lower ticket machine would be helpful - not only for Wheelchair users but for some Kids too.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Again, I don't expect Japan to do an about face 180 and suddenly become something it's never been.

No, we don't expect that. But it's the PRETENSE, the fake care, the fake welcome, which is nauseating.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Arturo: "For Christs sake, just because you want to visit Tibet and you are wheel chair bound, doesn't mean Tibet is going to build infrastructure to accommodate you."

Wow... didn't think that one out too well, did you. So, Japan should be able to hold the PARALYMPICS but not build the infrastructure to enable even the athletes to come here? wow... man... I canNOT stop laughing at your last comment.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

smithinjapan: my point is rather simple. why the hell let japan host such massive events when they never had the infrastructure in place to begin with? we're to believe the country will suddenly modernize to fully accommodate athletes and spectators who are in-need? highly doubtful.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

why the hell let japan host such massive events when they never had the infrastructure in place to begin with?

Most (all?) cities that host the Olympics don't have the infrastructure in place to do so. That's part of the deal - they upgrade their infrastructure to handle it. It's what the host countries/cities take on as a responsibility - getting themselves up to par. If they denied cities that didn't yet have the infrastructure in place, there would be no Olympics.

Japan willfully took on this responsibility, now you're asking why they should have to fulfill it. Um... because they took it on.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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