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Mainichi Shimbun committee meets for 2nd time on making Tokyo 2020 barrier-free

Japan Sports Agency Commissioner Daichi Suzuki, third from top left, and other Mainichi Universal Committee members attend a meeting in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on July 6, 2017. (Mainichi)

Ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, the "Mainichi Universal Committee" held its second meeting on June 6 to discuss making the venues for the games more accessible for people with disabilities.

The committee is charged with making suggestions for The Mainichi Newspapers' "Tomo ni 2020" (Together 2020) campaign promoting the realization of a barrier-free society, and met at the Palaceside Building in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. The meeting began with a keynote speech by committee member Yoshihiko Kawauchi, a professor at the Faculty of Human Life Design at Toyo University.

"Because providing spectator seating for those with disabilities is not required by law, (the seating) is more of a 'favor' than a 'right' in Japan," he pointed out.

Each committee member then responded with their opinions. Executive Vice President of ANA Strategic Research Institute Co. Hiroko Kawamoto noted, "Legislation would quickly advance (the seating issue)." Fellow committee member Shun Sakurai, former vice minister of internal affairs and communications and current adviser at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, commented that consensus among the people of Japan would be required to pass such a law.

Meanwhile, Paralympians Association of Japan Chairman Junichi Kawai stated, "There is no philosophy concerning the equality and rights (of the disabled) in Japan," and Daichi Suzuki, commissioner of the Japan Sports Agency, declared, "Making sure that even those with disabilities can enjoy attending sporting events is also the mission of the sports industry."

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