December 7th 2019
Japan’s Transport minister Kazuyoshi Akaba said Friday a study group will be set up as early as this month to consider how to make bullet trains more accessible to wheelchair users.
The proposed group will include representatives from Japan Railways Group companies that operate shinkansen, Akaba told a news conference.
The group will discuss ways to improve the booking system for seats designed for wheelchair users and other topics in the wake of a remark by Eiko Kimura, a House of Councilors member of minor opposition party Reiwa Shinsengumi, who highlighted the difficulty in securing such seats on shinkansen.
Kimura, who spoke at an Upper House committee meeting on Tuesday, has a severe disability and uses a wheelchair herself.
According to the rail companies, space for one or two wheelchairs is available on each bullet train. Users are requested to reserve them by telephone or at JR counters at least two days before boarding, in principle.
At the committee meeting, Akaba called the system “outrageous.”
Akaba said Friday that his ministry will work hard to make the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics an opportunity to turn Japan into an inclusive, barrier-free society.