Accessible Travel Japan

Tokyo is aiming to become a society where people with and without disabilities can live together. Source: Shutterstock.

FROM building The Aquatics Centre and The Musashino Forest Sport Plaza to a new railway line to link both Haneda Airport and Narita International Airport, and right down to pushing for a smoking ban, Japan is pulling out all stops to make the return of the Games to the country a successful one.

And now, the government is requiring all new hotels in Japan with more than 50 rooms to provide wheelchair-friendly accommodation.

As the country gears up to host the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, concerns have been expressed over the quantity of accommodation and facilities for disabled travelers.

According to a government survey conducted last year, only 0.4 percent of around 100,000 rooms at more than 600 hotels or inns were “barrier-free”.

Japan’s revised laws, which will come into effect on Sept 1, 2019, require at least one percent of rooms in newly built and refurbished hotels or traditional inns to be barrier-free for wheelchair users.

Accessible Travel Japan

Source: Shutterstock.

To add on, under the government definition, a barrier-free room must have an entrance wider than 80 centimeters, a bathroom with handrails, and no steps dividing rooms.

“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, Olympics Minister Yoshitaka Sakurada told reporters on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, elevators and ramps are being installed across Tokyo’s subway system, with officials saying around 90 percent of stations are now wheelchair accessible.

The Japanese government hopes to boost the number of foreign visitors from 28.7 million last year to 40 million in 2020.

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