New Japanese Legislation on Accessible Public Transportation

This brief comment by Yoshi Kawauchi, architect, access specialist and advocate, Tokyo, Japan, is critical of the new Japanese legislation on access in public transportation. While appreciating the law as a first step towards improvement, he is critical because the law is not a civil rights law and has no procedure for consumers to file complaints, does not include taxicabs because of political pressure, and does not cover people with developmental disabilities or psychiatric disabilities. Internet publication URL: www.independentliving.org/docs1/japan001027.html

In October 2000, Yoshi KAWAUCHI, architect, access specialist and advocate, Tokyo, Japan, email address bzh15277@nifty.ne.jp sent us this report on the new Japanese legislation on access in public transportation:

The law requires public transportation operators to make their facilities accessible in the case of new construction or major renovation, and make efforts (note 1) to make their existing facilities accessible.

Local governments, such as cities or towns, under the new law can (note 2) designate Improvement Priority Areas and make improvement plans for these areas. Public transportation facilities need to form the core of this area. Once an improvement plan is made, public transportation operators are required to improve also existing facilities' accessibility.

Yoshi's comments:

As a grass roots activist, I appreciate the law as the first step of improvement. We have no accessibility law on public transportation. So it is the beginning of beginning. We need to utilize this law to change our society.

However, I criticize this law because it is NOT the civil rights law. It just mentions the procedure to make facilities accessible without saying WHY. Also, the law has no procedure for consumers to file complaints. Furthermore, 
- it does not include taxicabs because of the political pressure.
- it does not cover people with developmental disabilities or psychiatric disabilities.

Our government said they did not know the needs of those people. Because they did not know the needs, they said, they had no way to improve it.

Note 1: "making efforts" does not requires them that they NEED to. It allows them to excuse "Although we made much efforts, we couldn't do that".

Note 2: It depends on the pressure by the community.

The English text of the law is available at
http://www.motnet.go.jp/koho00/barrier.htm
http://www.motnet.go.jp/koho00/GRAPHICS/barrier1.pdf

 

English