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Japanese railways to overturn rule preventing foreign travellers from taking mobility scooters on trains

mobility scooters on japanese trainsIf you are a mobility scooter user and you have been a tourist or traveller in Japan in the past or are planning to visit the country, this will be of interest to you.

The Japanese transport ministry has urged railways to abolish an industry rule that virtually bans foreign travellers with disabilities from using mobility scooters on trains. The law currently is convoluted and bizarre to say the least. 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.

Such users are required to present certificates or stickers issued by railway companies whenever boarding trains, including on the subway. However, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism announced recently that under a draft new rule developed in conjunction 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 only specific to Japan and that have often been criticised by people with disabilities and their supporters for being discriminatory. The changes, if adopted, would allow foreign travellers to use a mobility scooter on trains while in Japan. The new law, if and when introduced, will affect travel on all of Japan’s major railways, including East Japan Railway Co., West Japan Railway Co., Central Japan Railway Co. and Tokyo Metro Co.

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