• Kyodo

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The transport ministry has urged railways to abolish an industry rule that virtually bans foreign travelers with disabilities from using mobility scooters on trains.

Currently, people with disabilities can only take their mobility scooter on a train if the vehicle has been purchased or leased using Japanese government subsidies or through the nursing care insurance system.

Such users are required to present certificates or stickers issued by railway companies whenever boarding trains, including on the subway.

They are also required to present separate stickers that indicate their scooters have met standards for size and other criteria in order to board other trains such as the shinkansen.

However, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism said on Tuesday that under a draft new rule developed with railway operators, train users would not be required to obtain the certificates or stickers provided their mobility scooters meet the standards.

The ministry has been talking with operators since November about revising some rules that are peculiar to Japan and that have often been criticized by people with disabilities and their supporters for being discriminatory.

The changes, if adopted, would allow foreign travelers to use a mobility scooter on trains while in Japan.

Japan’s major railways, including East Japan Railway Co., West Japan Railway Co., Central Japan Railway Co. and Tokyo Metro Co., all currently enforce the existing rule.

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