• Kyodo

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One-third of the nation’s major amusement parks have not been aware of government standards for safety checks and many lack complete knowledge of the inspection norms under the Japanese Industrial Standards, a survey released Saturday shows.

Kyodo News conducted the survey after a fatal roller coaster accident in Osaka Prefecture earlier this month.

The standards oblige park operators to conduct one or more safety checks every year to find defects in the parts used in their attractions.

A total of 51 major amusement parks with roller coasters in 29 prefectures responded to the survey conducted after the May 6 accident at Expoland in Suita, Osaka, that killed a woman and injured about 20 other people. The park’s operator has admitted that it did not conduct a necessary checkup for 15 months.

The survey found that 17 of the 51 amusement parks did not even know the JIS norms existed. Many said they had not been notified or that they had depended on maintenance companies for checkups.

Some operators said they knew of the inspection standards but did not think they were obliged to follow them.

The survey also found that nearly 40 percent of the polled amusement parks failed to obey the JIS norms, including operators that have only conducted insufficient checkups using their “own” standards.

An operator in the Kyushu region has been applying its own standards even though it knew of the JIS norms. It thought the norms were just “a target to be implemented and not binding.”

Some operators also said they didn’t think inspections were required. “We never thought that (checkups based on the JIS norms) were definitely necessary,” one operator responded.

In contrast, there were operators that said the JIS norms were “common sense” or that “It is natural (to follow the norms) because we don’t have any other criteria.”

Operators that have set up their own standards for checkups every several years or have never conducted safety checks said they will now follow the JIS norms.

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