Japan to require airlines to accommodate wheelchair users from October

Japan Today vis Kyodo News

August 8th 2018

Japan will from October require airlines to ensure that disabled and elderly passengers can board planes while seated in wheelchairs, government sources said Tuesday.

The move comes amid a push to make hotels, transportation and other services more accessible ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism is currently looking into the necessary legal changes to oblige airlines that operate regular domestic and international flights in Japan to introduce wheelchair lifts, ramps and other equipment.

The need for airlines to better accommodate wheelchair users entered the spotlight in June last year in the highly publicized incident of a paraplegic man climbing up a flight of stairs using his arms after he was denied entry to a plane because of his disability.

The man, Hideto Kijima, was heading home from the resort island of Amami Oshima in southwestern Japan when a staffer at the local airport told him he could not board the Vanilla Air Inc. flight because there was no equipment to assist with boarding and disembarkation of wheelchair users.

Vanilla and other low-cost carriers are more likely to require such equipment because their planes often park out on the tarmac and cannot be boarded directly from airport terminals using bridges.

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