Mobility Scooters in Japan

While mobility scooters have been gaining popularity around the world as an alternative to traditional wheelchairs, Japan has been slow to follow. Mobility scooters are not common at mobility goods providers and, as such, very few people own them in Japan. This rarity makes it hard for many institutions in Japan to recognize mobility scooters as legitimate mobility devices for people with disabilities. Due to the crowds on trains and at train stations, rail companies have also been concerned about the maneuverability of mobility scooters (for example, getting out of a crowded train on a scooter may take extra turns when compared to a wheelchair, taking more time, requiring more people to move etc) and have been strict regarding what they refer to as “handle-type wheelchairs.” Application of the rules, however, is left mostly to the discretion of the staff at the station. This means some staff won’t blink an eye and offer help, others may ask for the above proof, still others may call their boss etc. and take the scooter separately like Maureen T. Corrigan experienced. In general, it seems that most of the problems come from Japan Rail, while the private rail lines seem less concerned. We at Accessible Japan can only suggest that you get your local disability identification card, or a letter from your physician, translated into Japanese so that you have something available to show station staff if requested. With the coming Tokyo Olympics and foreign visitors using a variety of mobility aids coming in larger numbers, the rail companies are being pressured to rethink their policies from various advocacy groups. Japan rail has an inquiry form that we suggest you use to show your desire to travel freely in Japan with your mobility scooter. Please use the form here:

https://entry.jr-odekake.net/webapp/form/18112_quab_1/index.do

We would love to share stories of your experiences in Japan with a mobility scooter. Sharing these stories on the blog can help many others preparing for their trip.

Related articles:

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170415/p2a/00m/0na/002000chttp://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Policy-Politics/Japan-to-make-trains-more-accessible-by-mobility-scooter

JR Rules

The following is a translation of the rules regarding mobility scooters on the shinkansen:
In cases where certain conditions are met for both the passengers and wheelchairs, it is possible to ride in the multi-purpose room on train cars operated by the N700 series used on the Tokaido, Sanyo and Kyushu Shinkansen lines, the W7 series used on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line and the E7 series.

Customers/wheelchairs that can use this service

Handle-operated electric wheelchairs that can use this service:

In cases where the requirements are not satisfied: Since the design of the facilities are based on guidelines from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport and the above requirements, wheelchairs that do not satisfy the requirements will not be allowed.

Information

Trains/Facilities that can be used

The multi-purpose rooms on train cars operated by the N700 series used on the Tokaido, Sanyo and Kyushu Shinkansen lines, the W7 series used on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line and the E7 series.

Stations that can be used

Every station on the Tokaido, Sanyo and Kyushu Shinkansen line (except Shin Iwakuni Station and Asa Station). Each station on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line (except Iiyama Station, Ueda Station, Annaka-Haruna Station, and Honjo Waseda Station). If the following conditions are met, you can transfer to and from non-Shinkansen lines.
  1. Able to transfer to and from the non-Shinkansen line platform.
  2. The train on the non-Shinkansen line is operated by an accessible train.
  3. The station on the non-Shinkansen line which you will be using is accessible.