The government plans to dramatically expand accessibility for people with disabilities at train stations, bus terminals and airports by fiscal 2020 in preparation for the Tokyo Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.
As part of the new basic transportation policy, an advisory body to the transport minister compiled a list on Nov. 17 of 56 items in need of improvement at these facilities used by more than 3,000 people a day.
The list includes not only barrier-free equipment and upgrades for wheelchair users, but also Braille notification signs for people with vision disabilities, toilets specially designed for easier access and platform sliding doors to prevent people from falling onto the tracks.
The government plan calls for 3,500 of the nation's 9,500 train stations to be equipped with the barrier-free facilities for people with disabilities by the 2020 deadline. Currently, of those 3,500 stations, only 83 percent are so equipped.
The corresponding percentage figure for toilets for people with disabilities is 80 percent. The plan is to raise those numbers to 100 percent.
To bring about the upgrades, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism plans to offer incentives, such as subsidies, to railway companies, bus service operators and airlines in return for their cooperation.
One example where government incentives will come into play involves the sliding barrier doors on platforms. Installation is more difficult for platforms that service two or more railway companies because the door locations on the train cars used by the differing operators vary in many cases.
Therefore, to raise the number of stations using such barriers to 800 from the current 583, the government plans to subsidize one-third of the installation costs.
As for other transportation policy changes, the ministry also plans to increase the total annual number of aircraft arrivals and departures at Haneda and Narita airports by 80,000 from the current 747,000 (the expected figure by the end of fiscal 2014).
In addition, the ministry intends to increase the total number of overseas cities that have direct flight services to and from the two airports from the current 88 to around 143. That number corresponds with the number of direct flights to and from Incheon and Gimpo airports in South Korea.