Call it a response to a public outcry, or preparation for a more accessible 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, but Japan airports will be getting a much needed access upgrade — lift access to aircraft parked on the tarmac.
Let’s start with the public outcry. In June 2017 wheelchair-user Hideto Kijima tried to board a Vanilla Air flight to his home in Osaka from the southern island of Amami; but since the small plane lacked a jetway he was initially told he would not be able to take the flight. Since he needed to get home, he did what he had to do. He crawled up the boarding stairs from the tarmac to the plane. Ironically Kijima is a disability rights activist, so he blogged about the incident when he returned home.
And what followed was a very public outcry about Kijima’s humiliating experience.
And then there are the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. The Japanese government doesn’t want to see any access failures — and the associated press — so they are pushing forward to make their hotels, transportation and other services more accessible.
And I believe these combined factors led to the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism announcement in August, that stated they will require airlines at Japanese airports to provide wheelchair-users access to aircraft that lack jetways. In other words, they must provide lift access to planes that have stairway access up from the tarmac..
So when is improved access suppose ton start? Today, October 1, 2018.
I’m not sure how it’s all going to go, so stay tuned for updates. At the very least, it’s the start of a more accessible Japan! And that’s a very good thing.