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  5. Project for Dissemination and Promotion of Safety Measures for Electric Wheelchairs and Other Apparatuses to be Conducted

Project for Dissemination and Promotion of Safety Measures for Electric Wheelchairs and Other Apparatuses to be Conducted

- Demonstration tests for introducing electric wheelchairs to start in collaboration with five cities -

October 9, 2020

Efforts for encouraging the elderly to make use of electric wheelchairs are expected to not only help them smoothly move and engage in activities but also contribute to reducing the number of traffic accidents caused by their driving of vehicles. To this end, electric wheelchairs can play an important role in Japan facing an aging society. In this context, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) decided to conduct efforts involving electric wheelchairs, including those for promoting dissemination thereof and raising public awareness of safety and use.

1. Background to and purpose of the project

Electric wheelchairs are one of the tools for helping the elderly independently go out by themselves. Regardless of this advantage, many people are less aware of electric wheelchairs as a rational, useful tool for the elderly in their daily lives, and this situation is causing a challenge in enhancing social understanding and acceptance of electric wheelchairs toward dissemination of such wheelchairs.

Through an effort for lending electric wheelchairs to the elderly in some communities of participating cities for three weeks, this project aims to: ascertain effects brought about by use of electric wheelchairs to activities by the elderly, challenges in use of such wheelchairs in certain communities and other facts; and also raise public awareness of safe use of such wheelchairs.

2. Starting demonstration tests for introducing electric wheelchairs in five cities across Japan

From October 12 (Mon.), 2020, METI will start demonstration tests for introducing electric wheelchairs in five cities in sequence: Yokohama City, Chofu City, Tsukuba City, Kyotango City and Shizuoka City.

In some communities of these participating cities, METI will prepare a “Map for Strolling by Electric Wheelchair” for the purpose of improving the user-friendliness of electric wheelchairs and thereby aim to disseminate such wheelchairs in a more community-based manner.

Overview of the demonstration tests in the respective communities

Sengen (a suburb area) and Hoyodai (a suburb area with a complex of single houses), Tstukuba City, Ibaraki Prefecture
Demonstration tests will be conducted in two areas: “Sengen,” an area in which “Pedestrian Decks,” roads currently paved mainly around Tsukuba Station, are expected to be utilized, and “Hoyodai,” an aged area once called “new town” whose ratio of elderly population is over 50%. Electric wheelchairs are expected to work as a mobility means for the elderly who live in communities where a vehicle is essential for their daily lives but have surrendered their driver’s licenses.
Ukawa area (a depopulated area), Kyotango City, Kyoto Prefecture
Since the only supermarket closed and withdrew from the area, mobile stores and morning markets have regularly met the demands of people for shopping. As this area is crowded with houses and has many narrow roads and slopes, vehicles often face difficulties in entering the area.
Tamagawa Housing Complex (a suburb housing complex), Chofu City, Tokyo
This large-scale housing complex is facing aging residents as 50 years have passed since the construction of the complex. People in this area have been tackling revitalization of the area with the complex being rebuilt, and have been requesting safe and secure mobility means for the elderly.
Okawa area (a hilly and mountainous area), Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Prefecture
For people in this area, vehicles are an essential tool in their daily lives. Currently, elderly people who have surrendered their driver’s licenses depend on support measures for mobility provided by their family members or supporters dispatched by the municipality to the area.
Kamigo Neopolis (a suburb complex of single houses), Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture
This area is a large-scale complex of single houses which has passed over 40 years since the development of the area. Residents in the area, with the industry-academia-government collaboration, have been tackling a variety of solutions to challenges in the area, such as securing mobility means in the area, aiming to develop a town where people can continue to live in a safe and secure manner.

Scenes from a demonstration and an explanatory meeting

Reference 1: Potential for Electric Wheelchairs in Modern Times (Dr. Suzuki Takao, Professor, Graduate School, J. F. Oberlin University)


Reference 2: Survey on Going-out and Mobility of the Elderly

Summary of the survey results:

Note: The Survey on Going-out and Mobility of the Elderly targeted 600 people across Japan, consisting of 450 male and female elderly people aged 65 or more and 150 people of their offspring generations in their 40s and 50s, aiming to ascertain the current situations of going out and mobility of the elderly. This survey was conducted from September 7 (Mon.) to 9 (Wed.), 2020.

Division in Charge

Medical and Assistive Device Industries Office, Commerce and Service Industry Policy Group