By Barrier Free Japan
January 9 2022
JAPAN – Recent incidents at railway crossings in Japan involving people with disabilities have led people to ask how such incidents can be avoided.
Such tragedies are becoming a common occurrence in Japan. For example, on January 28th 2021, a local group for visually impaired people submitted a request to Tobu Railway to strengthen measures to prevent falls after an accident in which a visually impaired man fell and died at a station in Itabashi Ward, Tokyo.
This accident occurred on January 28 2021, when a visually impaired man in his 60s fell on to a railroad track at Shimo-Akatsuka Station on the Tobu-Tojo Line in Itabashi Ward and was hit by a train and died.
Three months before the accident, groups representing the visually impaired in Itabashi Ward and Toshima Ward submitted a request to Tobu Railway to strengthen fall prevention measures. In the request form, they requested the early realization of the installation of platform doors.
Tobu Railway told the visually impaired group that it would consider training station staff by walking trainers who provide walking guidance for the visually impaired.
A similar tragedy occurred on November 29 2020, when a man, believed to be visually impaired fell from the platform at Toyocho Station on the Tokyo Metro Tozai Line in Toyo 4, Koto-ku, Tokyo, and collided with a train (10-car train) from Nakano to Nishi-Funabashi. A platform door was installed at the station to prevent people from falling, but the door remained open.
Hirokazu Ichihara of the Tokyo Metropolitan Welfare Association for the Blind states: “I know that there is not much communication between the visually impaired and the railway operator in many ways, including this accident, so I have the opportunity to talk with local visually impaired groups. I think we have to do something that directly conveys what we are having trouble with…here are many accidents at stations that have installed platform doors but are not yet in operation. Visually impaired people operate when the white cane hits the platform doors. It may be misunderstood that it is. I want you to start operation as soon as possible after installing it. Before the operation, some stations have guards, so I would like to ask for measures to prevent falls during the platform door transition period.”.
According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, as of the end of March 2020, only 10% of stations with platform doors have been installed, mainly stations with many users.