Photo/Illutration The municipal Hatagaya public toilet complex, rebuilt in February and seen here in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward on March 7, has two universal restroom stalls and a men’s area with urinals. (Sho Tanji)

A public restroom in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward has caused controversy online as it abolished a women-only area after the ward government rebuilt it in February despite keeping the men’s urinals.

The toilet complex in the Hatagaya 3-chome district of the ward comprises two universal restroom stalls and a men’s area with urinals.

The municipal Hatagaya public toilet complex stands in a corner of a residential area about 600 meters from the Keio New Line Hatagaya Station.

It previously had a men’s area, a women’s restroom and a unisex, multipurpose restroom.

Rebuilt, it now has two universal barrier-free restroom stalls that are equipped with a diaper-changing table and facilities for ostomates, among other features.

The men’s area has remained, however. It has two urinals and lies separated from the universal toilets.

The women’s area, meanwhile, is gone.

Ken Suda, a member of the Shibuya Ward assembly, pointed out the removal in a post on his Twitter account on March 6. His post has been subsequently cited in many quoted tweets.

“There should be, first and foremost, priority on safety and security when it comes to a municipal public restroom complex of the ward,” Suda told The Asahi Shimbun. “The women’s area shouldn’t have been removed in light of crime prevention and other perspectives.”

The ward government reacted by releasing a statement on its website on March 7, part of which reads, “We have never set a direction for abolishing women’s areas in maintaining and upgrading our (public) toilets in the years to come.”

“We are seeking to ensure that everyone can use our public toilets in comfort, whatever their gender,” a ward government official told The Asahi Shimbun. “Some of our public restroom complexes may end up, as a consequence, centered on universal toilet stalls, like what you have seen in the latest case.”

The official said the men’s urinals were retained to “prevent an excessive concentration of users of the universal restrooms,” adding that, for safety, the ward government plans to install surveillance cameras at public toilet complexes in the ward.

The Shibuya Ward government in 2018 worked out a set of “basic policies on toilet environment development,” which include receptivity to diversity and the availability of more options for those with special needs. The ward government has been working with the Nippon Foundation on a project to upgrade 17 public restroom complexes.

The upgrade work will ensure there is at least one universal toilet stall, the ward government official said.