Tokyo needs better accessibility

Regarding the selection of Tokyo as the host of the 2020 Olympics: A lot of Japanese rejoiced to hear that Japan was selected to host the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. While the mass media is highly likely to focus on facilities in which the games are supposed to be held, I think that a lot of people overlook an important defect Tokyo has been suffering from.

I believe that by all appearances this city is very inconvenient and unfriendly especially for handicapped people. While many big high-rise buildings are installed with at least facilities for these people, however, the situation in small and medium-size buildings is far from satisfactory, even in the central part of Tokyo. Train stations often show disastrous situations where there are only a few elevators, which are usually occupied by ordinary passengers. Commuter trains are full of people and hard to get on during the rush hour even for local Japanese. Recklessly left bicycles near stations and bus stops always interfere not only with normal people but also wheelchair users and blind people. Besides, in hospitals, these local handicapped people always face difficulties to communicate especially if using sign language and so on for want of doctors and nurses who have some experience dealing with these people.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government should not only build or refurbish facilities in the light of these people, but also gather those volunteers who can take care of handicapped people with hospitality and experience. Train operators should renovate their facilities to the point where they can meet international standards. If they succeeded in renewing a city in which those people can easily live and commute, it also means the city is becoming a friendly and convenient place for aged people in this progressively aging society.

shuichi john watanabe
tokyo

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.