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September 2014

16 September 2014

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics a chance to push for a true barrier free society

Secretariat-General of DPI Japan
Mr. Satoshi Sato

  The chance has come! The perfect opportunity to remedy the issues still surrounding the barrier free issue. This golden chance has come in the form of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Being a grand event watched by the world, a vast amount of funds will be injected and many sports arenas as well as transport infrastructure will be developed. We want to propose even better facility standards than before for these services, and work to make sure they are adopted.
  Last year, when I visited America, I realized Japan’s barrier free law had fallen behind the times. The Yankee Stadium had several hundred seats accommodating wheelchairs! (Tokyo Dome has 12 seats.) And not only were there seats around the whole length of the stadium, but they were also installed on both the 2nd and 3rd floors. The seats were also designed so that the sight line of fans in wheelchairs was always maintained. There were toilets on all floors, and several routes were offered for patrons in wheelchairs - therefore giving the same treatment as non-disabled patrons. Tickets for the wheelchair seats could also be purchased by fans from overseas. Wheelchairs could be boarded on cheap, long distance buses, there were universal taxis throughout the city, and even restaurants could accommodate several customers in wheelchairs at once.
  After coming back to Japan, I researched the facility standards of the American Disability Act and found that there was a very detailed guideline. For example, ensuring the sight line of patrons in wheelchairs, and outlining how many wheelchair seats were required in relation to a venue’s total number of seats (if there are over 5000 seats, roughly 0.5% must be wheelchair seats). However, Japan’s barrier free law has no such specifications written out. As long as this law remains unamend, and facility standards are not improved upon, a true barrier free society will never be realized.
  So let’s make it happen with these Olympics and Paralympics! There’s not only the sporting venue, but so many things we can do with accessibility, hotels, restaurants and treatments by staffs for people with disabilities. It’s also a chance to take action on things that have long remained unaddressed - such as creating free space in bullet trains and making airport limousine buses barrier free. Let’s make a city where people with any disability can enjoy their lives. We desire to come up with facility standards for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, make these proposals and further develop our lobbying activities.
  We will divide our proposals into themes such as the First Proposal for Sporting Venues and the Second Proposal for Accessibility, and keep on coordinating our ideas. With this, we’ll go round to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics Organizing Committee and the related ministries, as well as have these issues steadily covered by the mass media. Though we’ll begin with the goal of a barrier free Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, we won’t stop there. We aim to amend in Japan’s barrier free law and continue in our efforts to make all of Japan a barrier free country.
  This is the movement coming from us. Not only will we tackle it in earnest, but we sincerely wish to enjoy ourselves while doing it. Everyone, let’s do this together!

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