Japan’s high-tech toilets are nothing new but their growing popularity has prompted the government to use them as a tool to promote tourism and sell the technology abroad.
A panel set up under Haruko Arimura, minister in charge of women’s empowerment, submitted a report Monday recommending the government use toilets to boost tourism in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“Japan’s toilet technology should serve as a perfect tool to spread our culture of omotenashi (hospitality),” the panel said in the report.
Japanese toilets, famous for their heated seats and bidet jets, are synonymous with cutting-edge technology. In fact, they are so popular overseas that Chinese tourists flocked to appliance stores in Tokyo during the Chinese New Year holiday in February to purchase them.
For its “Japan Toilet Challenge” initiative, the panel proposed that the government award efforts by facility operators, companies and municipalities across the country to keep their toilets comfortable, clean and safe.
It also suggested revising the often poor English-language instructions in public lavatories so tourists can better understand how to use them.
Toilets are even key to achieving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s much-hyped drive to create a society where “all women can shine,” the panel said, going as far as to characterize their renovation as a symbol of female livability.
“Toilets greatly affect the quality of life for women,” its proposal read, noting more efforts should be taken to shorten the time women wait to use the bathroom.
One of the latest innovations is an app that allows people to use smartphones to control their toilets.
Developed by housing fixtures maker Lixil Corp., the app allows smartphones to flush toilets and adjust the water pressure for the bidet without using the toilet’s control panel.
To showcase its latest toilet technology, toilet maker Toto set up Gallery TOTO at Narita International Airport in April. The facility is designed to lure people into trying out its state-of-the-art lavatories.