With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics just two years away, Tokyo is scrambling to have enough hotel rooms for all the visitors expected to come to the events. For visitors with disabilities requiring an accessible hotel room, the search for a room was even harder as only hotels with over 50 rooms were required to have an accessible room, and even then the hotel was only required to have one such room. So, even a hotel with hundreds of rooms was only required to have one wheelchair accessible room by law.

Following concerns raised by the International Paralympic Committee that Tokyo had too few accessible rooms, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry conducted research that of the 100,000 plus hotel rooms in Japan, only 0.4% were wheelchair accessible. (In the UK the law requires 5% of rooms be accessible.)

The ministry plans on revising the Law for Promoting Easy Mobility and Accessibility for the Aged and Disabled (commonly referred to as the “Barrier Free Law”) by the end of the year to increase the number of required rooms to be around 1% as follows:

Total Number of
Rooms in Hotel
Currently Required
Accessible Rooms
Required Accessible
Rooms after Revision
1 – 4900
50 – 10011
101 – 20012
201 – 30013
301 – 40014
401 – 50015
Arrows downwards

It will also set measurable criteria that must be met for a hotel room to be labeled as wheelchair accessible. Until now the guidelines were vague, leading rooms labeled as accessible to vary wildly from one hotel to another.

While it is exciting to hear of these improvements, only 1% of rooms will be required to be accessible (while the World Health Organization estimates that “About 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability”).  Additionally, the law will unfortunately only apply to new hotels or hotels undergoing renovations or expansion.

Hopefully hotels will go beyond what is required by the law and realize that accessibility is financially beneficial.

Adapted from the article in The Japan News: http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004526012


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