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Nagoya aims to make its public toilets 'coolest in the world'

(Mainichi)

NAGOYA -- The municipal government here has unveiled a plan to westernize all public toilets in places such as sightseeing facilities, parks and subway stations.

    The first part of the project is to ensure that all public toilets at sightseeing facilities in Nagoya are westernized in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. After that, parks and sports facilities across the city will also receive the same treatment. This kind of policy is said to be rare for a government-ordinance-designated city.

    The announcement was made by Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura during a municipal assembly plenary session on June 26. The plan to install western toilets is a response to the increasing number of foreign tourists visiting Nagoya, as well as an attempt to increase convenience for senior citizens and disabled people.

    During the assembly session, assembly member Takao Saito of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) asked, "If Nagoya wants to become a major tourist destination, isn't it necessary to provide first-class hospitality?" To which Kawamura replied, "We must allocate some of the next fiscal year's budget for this cause. I want to install pristine western toilets of showroom standard, and to make Nagoya 'the city that has the coolest toilets in the world.'"

    According to the municipal government, approximately half of the 3,000 or so public toilets in the city at major sightseeing spots such as Nagoya Castle, as well as in subway stations and parks, are Japanese style. This means that it would cost about 1 to 2 billion yen to westernize the city's public toilets -- a project that the city says will make use of the national government's subsidy system. The city will call on private sightseeing spots, hotels, and restaurants to follow suit in the toilet renaissance.

    In addition, the municipal government is also looking into switching to flooring that is more effective at reducing odors, in response to common complaints about public toilets in the city as "being dirty and having a bad smell."

    Meanwhile, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has set out a goal of westernizing 90 percent of toilets in subway stations and 80 percent of toilets in public elementary and junior high schools by fiscal 2020, allocating about 3.8 billion yen in its initial budget for fiscal 2017. Subsidies will be provided to municipal governments in order to westernize the toilets in community centers, elementary schools and junior high schools. Japanese inns and private train stations near Olympic and Paralympic venues will also be covered.

    Meanwhile, in Oita Prefecture, westernization of about 100 public toilets is taking place. A system of "toilet approval certification" has been implemented, in which public toilets are ranked by factors such as their cleanliness, and given stickers based on their rank.

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