Tokyo’s city government is seeking to install universal-use toilets for all genders in Olympic and Paralympic venues, according to the Asahi Shimbun.
The city, which will host the upcoming 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, will consider building at least one unisex toilet in seven of the 11 venues being built by the city government. Larger facilities will see a few of the transgender-friendly toilets installed.
Japan already has daredemo toire — unisex, wheelchair-accessible toilets — but wheelchair-accessible toilets require more space, hence the plan for more toilets.
The new unisex toilets won’t be wheelchair-friendly, however. But they will be big enough for two people, to accommodate those needing assistance to use the toilet, reported the Asahi Shimbun. The city government hopes that construction of the new unisex toilets will reduce queues for existing wheelchair-accessible toilets.
The plan was applauded by Maki Muraki, head of Nijiiro Diversity, a local LGBT nonprofit. “Along with the effort to increase the number of public toilets, to raise people’s awareness that those who do not look like a typical man or woman can use a toilet as a matter of course is also important,” she said.
Japan is one of the more transgender-friendly countries in the region — with the country’s education ministry issuing a notice in 2015 requiring local school boards to allow transgender students to attend school with uniforms of the gender they identify with, amongst other measures, such as letting transgender students use the bathrooms they prefer.
Still, discrimination is prevalent, with half of transgender people saying that they have received “suspicious glances” from other users, according to a 2015 survey by Nijiiro Diversity and household equipment maker Lixil Group. More than one in five transgender people reported being told not to use the facilities they were in.