Japan to Set 0.5% Rule for Space for Wheelchair Users at Events

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, in November 2020

Tokyo, Feb. 25 (Jiji Press)—Japan’s infrastructure ministry plans to create a nationwide rule requiring that 0.5 pct of seats at sports venues and theaters be reserved for wheelchair users.

The ministry will revise a related government decree under the barrier-free law by the end of March at the earliest, after a panel of experts and officials from disability groups reaches a conclusion on the issue.

The central government’s move comes after many local governments have set their own wheelchair space requirements of 0.5 pct or more.

The International Paralympic Committee’s guidelines also cite 0.5 pct as the minimum wheelchair space requirement for all sporting events except the Olympics and Paralympics.

According to the ministry’s plan, the nationwide wheelchair space rule will be set at 0.5 pct or more for facilities with a total floor area of 2,000 square meters and more than 400 seats. Those with 400 seats or less will be required to provide space for at least two wheelchair users. Facilities that do not meet the rule will not be allowed to be newly built or renovated.

A survey by the ministry in 2022 to 2023 found that about 80 to 90 pct of sports facilities, public theaters and music halls developed in 2012 and later already had wheelchair space accounting for 0.5 pct or more of the audience area.

However, about 37 pct of large sports facilities with more than 2,000 seats are believed to fall short of the 0.5 pct requirement.