Japan: A destination reachable to everyone
Tokyo is hosting the 2020 Paralympic Games for the second time in the Games’ history, although Japan has been implementing barrier-free access and mobility throughout Tokyo and the entire country since 2006.
The New Barrier-Free Law was introduced in 2006 to assist in making Tokyo more accessible to the elderly and persons with disabilities. By 2016, the Universal Design 2020 Action Plan had been implemented to further upgrade infrastructures such as railway stations and other kinds of public transportation for people with disabilities.
Kyoji Kuramochi, Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) Executive Vice President, stated, “For example, there are about 700 railway stations in Tokyo, of which about 95 percent have non-step passages and accessible toilets…In addition, 94 percent of public buses in the city can accommodate wheelchair users. This vast public transportation network enables virtually all people to travel to almost anywhere in the city.”
“There’s also an increasing number of easy-access non-step buses in cities around Japan. The buses are built with low floors to make it easier for everyone to board and alight. Most of the government-run Toei buses in Tokyo are non-step,” he stated.
Ronald Mace, former head of North Carolina State University’s Center for Universal Design, pioneered the concept of universal design. Universally designed places include things like better signage that takes into account differences in language as well as reading, seeing, and hearing ability, with a focus on designing spaces, products, and structures that are accessible and functional for all users.
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