Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport
Back to Home Back to Top Back
Policy Bureau
General Principles of Universal Design Policy


  Japan has, as a consequence of a process of modernization and industrialization that has taken place mainly in the twentieth century, become one of the world's major economic powers. During the half century since the end of World War II, it has experienced particularly rapid urbanization and industrialization and created urban and transportation systems appropriate to its new status. These were adapted to a society whose principal characteristic was growth.
  But now at the beginning of the twenty-first century, Japanese society has entered a period of radical change. The simultaneous aging of the population and decline of the birth rate are bringing an unprecedented period of population decline. This society is introducing measures to support independent activities planned so that elderly people can autonomously select their own life styles. Efforts are also being made to create a gender equal participation society that lets both men and women mutually exercise their distinctive characteristics and capabilities.
  It is also essential to create a symbiotic society in which handicapped people make independent choices and decisions to enter and participate fully in all social activities. Therefore, measures to help all handicapped people exercise their own capabilities to achieve self-actualization are being introduced.
  Continued internationalization is deepening links between Japanese society and foreigners who come here to do business, tour Japan, and for other purposes.
  We are entering an age when we must make efforts to create a society in which every person can exercise his or her own unique qualities in this way and participate freely in society to achieve self-actualization.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT) is now implementing national land and transportation policies based on the concept of universal design *1 that is defined as the design of facilities, "easily and freely used anywhere, by anyone" in order to create such a society by providing social capital and transportation systems that will support society in the twenty-first century.
  In October of last year, the MLIT established the Universal Design Policy Promotion Headquarters within the ministry. It has now conducted discussions a total of fifteen times. It prepared these General Principles by carrying out an overall examination of all fields of national land and transportation administration and conducting discussions with experts both inside and outside of Japan, and at the same time, has linked discussion groups formed to deal with the way to achieve barrier free *2 conditions, to smooth the use of public transportation systems and to promote Free Mobility Project *3.
  Through this organization's activities, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport will reform the consciousness of every one of its employees so that the entire organization will implement national land and transportation policies based on the concept of universal design, and it is counting on internal groups and individuals who play a variety of roles working together to undertake aggressive measures to achieve the above goals.

*1  Universal design: This is the concept of designing cities and living environments that can be utilized without difficulty by everyone including the handicapped, people of all ages and of both genders, and of all races (From the Basic Plan for Handicapped People (Cabinet Decision of December 24, 2002))
*2 Barrier free: This is the process of removing barriers preventing elderly and handicapped people for example from participating in the life of society. It is the concept of moving all obstacles including physical, social, systemic, psychological, and information obstacles. (From the Basic Plan for Handicapped People (Cabinet Decision of December 24, 2002))
*3  Free Mobility Project: This refers to projects that apply revolutionary ubiquitous network technologies to use Ubiquitous Location Information Systems that provide necessary information anytime, anywhere, to anyone in real time in order to provide system users with information such as travel routes, transportation methods, and destinations by voice, by a letter, and in multiple languages to allow the elderly and handicapped to travel freely to destinations they wish to reach.
Page Top
All Rights Reserved, Copyright (C) 2006, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport