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Visually impaired group visits station in Tokyo after fatal platform fall

Kanji Yamashiro, representative director of the National Council of Visual Disabled in Japan, is seen examining a platform door at the Tokyo Metro Tozai Line's Toyocho Station in the capital's Koto Ward on Dec. 6, 2020, after a visually impaired man fell onto the tracks before being fatally hit by a train on Nov. 29. (Mainichi/Kaho Kitayama)

TOKYO -- Members and supporters of an organization consisting of visually impaired individuals have inspected the site at a subway station where a man with sight impairment was fatally hit by a train on Nov. 29.

    On Dec. 6, six members of the National Council of Visual Disabled in Japan and two supporters visited the scene of the accident at Toyocho Station on the Tokyo Metro Co.'s Tozai Line in the capital's Koto Ward. The deceased is Yukio Koike, 68, a massage therapist from Tokyo's Edogawa Ward.

    According to Tokyo Metro, Koike -- who was carrying a white cane -- went through the ticket gates and descended the stairs to the platform, which he lost his footing at the edge of as he was walking toward the tracks. Although platform doors were installed at the station in early November, they had yet to begin operating, as adjustments for detectors were not completed, and they remained open at the time of the incident.

    Members of the national council walked along the platform, and concluded that its width where the man fell was narrow at only around 3 meters, and that the sound of oncoming trains echoes and becomes louder.

    Masanori Matsukawa, 64, a member of the national council with complete vision loss who has experience falling off a platform at another station, commented, "When the sound of a train's arrival is loud, it is possible that visually impaired individuals will mistakenly think that a train that came to the opposite platform has arrived in front of them. In my case too, I fell down after taking a step forward, thinking that I heard the train stop."

    Kanji Yamashiro, 64, a representative director of the national council, said, "I'd like it if announcements informing passengers that platform doors are still open could be made from multiple places in the station, and want to ask station attendants to watch carefully for people with white canes, and call out to them to see if they need help."

    At Toyocho Station, one attendant is stationed at the ticket gates at all times, and is supposed to approach visually impaired individuals who pass by. However, the train attendant apparently did not notice that Koike was holding a white cane when he entered. Following the accident, the station has increased the number of attendants at ticket gates to two people, and is working to prevent a recurrence.

    (Japanese original by Mei Nammo, City News Department)

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