The Daily Manila Shimbun


Work progressing for barrier-free public transport

August 26, 2017

TOKYO- Japanese companies including railway operators and airlines are ramping up work to make stations, airports and other facilities barrier-free ahead of the opening of the Tokyo Paralympics on Aug. 25, 2020.

Barrier-free facilities will not only help make Paralympic athletes to get around easily but also become a legacy of the quadrennial sports event, industry people say.

East Japan Railway Co. or JR East, is expanding the capacities of elevators and toilets at Sendagaya Station near the new National Stadium, the main venue of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

In June this year, the company set plans to upgrade Shin-Kiba Station, near the archery venue, and Shinbashi Station, a transfer station for those going to the Ariake district with many Paralympic venues.

JR East will spend 50 billion yen to upgrade a total of seven stations deemed important for visiting venues. The upgrading work is slated to end by spring 2020.

The 2020 Games provide "an opportunity to publicize the convenience of Japanese railways," a JR East executive said.

Railway companies are also trying to make station platforms and related facilities safer for blind users.

Subway operator Tokyo Metro Co. will finish installing platform screen doors to prevent passengers from falling onto tracks at 138 stations, or 77 pct of its 179 stations.

Seibu Railway Co. will introduce such doors at major stations, as well as textured paving blocs designed to provide guidance to the blind.

At Tokyo International Airport at Haneda, Keikyu Corp. plans to expand the capacities of elevators at its station for the airport domestic terminals by the end of 2018.

All Nippon Airways had introduced 110 resin-based wheelchairs that pass metal detectors at the Haneda airport by the end of July this year.

A total of 85 such wheelchairs had also been introduced at New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido, Osaka International Airport at Itami and Kansai International Airport, both in Osaka Prefecture, and Fukuoka Airport in Fukuoka Prefecture.

Convenience store chain FamilyMart Co. has made it easy to look for outlets with wheelchair-accessible multipurpose toilets online. Fujita Kanko Inc. the operator of the Washington Hotel chain, holds sessions to teach sign languages to hotel staff.

Critics, however, say that Japan still lags far behind European countries in efforts to promote barrier-free access.

The number of wheelchair-accessible taxis available in Japan totaled 15,000 at the end of March 2016, far short of the government's target of boosting the number to 28,000 by fiscal 2020. Jiji Press