Photo/IllutrationThe Asahi Shimbun

To expand the spirit of inclusivity and diversity, the Tokyo metropolitan government is seeking to install universal-use toilets for all genders in the venues it is constructing for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

Although “Daredemo toire” (Everyone’s toilets) already exist in many places, those multi-purpose toilet compartments are designed to accommodate wheelchairs, and thus require a certain amount of space. As a result, an insufficient number of them can be installed.

As a solution, smaller compartments for all genders that can accommodate two people, but not wheelchairs, are under consideration. They are designed for use by any gender, as well as people with disabilities other than those in wheelchairs, and are intended to reduce any lines for Daredemo toire.

The concept was born out of consideration for those who need assistance from someone of another gender, as well as the needs of transgender people, who may experience difficulties in using single-gendered facilities.

The Tokyo metropolitan government’s plan was applauded by Maki Muraki, head of nonprofit organization Nijiiro Diversity (Rainbow-colored diversity), who said: “Along with the effort to increase the number of public toilets, to raise people's awareness that those who do not look like a typical man or woman can use a toilet as a matter of course is also important.”

At least one unisex toilet is planned to be installed in seven of the 11 venues being built by the metropolitan government, and large facilities, including Ariake Arena, where wheelchair basketball games will be played, are planned to have a few of the new-concept toilets installed.

Installation of the new-design unisex toilets in the other four buildings is under consideration.

Fifty percent of transgender people say that when using a toilet in a workplace or public facility, they have received suspicious glances from other users, according to data collected in 2015 by Nijiiro Diversity and Lixil Group Corp., a leading household equipment maker.

Twenty-two percent reported being told not to use the facilities.

The research also revealed how some transgender people have been told by others before entering Daredemo toire compartments not to use them because they are only for people in wheelchairs.