The expected influx of foreign visitors coming to Japan due to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics requires urgent response.
According to the Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO), visitors that have just arrived in Japan typically use paper-based information such as guidebooks, or JNTO and travel agency websites, forums, and social networks to gather information. 90% of the visitors have devices that can connect to the internet, and there is data that shows that they use those devices for everyday communication during their stay.
How can we make travel within Japan smoother for these visitors? One answer comes from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, which suggests improvements to the English road signs. For example, to make it easier to say "Roppongi Dori" perhaps to a taxi driver, the use of "Roppongi Dori Ave." is being suggested to make it easier to understand the meaning as well. Another example is the "The National Diet" which was written as "Kokkai" until now.
Of course, the goal doesn't end at the Olympics, but the ultimate vision is to create a society that tailors to foreign visitors but also to the elderly and handicapped people already living in Japan even after the Olympics. The goal is "the creation of an all-inclusive society", where everyone in the society can get around without restriction, and no one is left out.
In the 2014 "Promotion Committee for Pedestrian Movement Support Using ICT" discussion, data on foreign visitors in Japan was made public, as a way to aid an improvement of services for visitors.
In January 2014, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications and Tokai Bureau of Telecommunications aided a "Shoryudo Project" which aimed to increase foreign visitors to the Chubu and Hokuriku regions. The Ministry is working to help increase Wi-Fi hotspots as well as provide multilingual support in tourist facilities and accommodations.
Similarly, in Toyota City of Aichi Prefecture, a project called "Smart Melit (Smart Mobility & Energy Life in Toyota City)" is being conducted since November 2014 which is creating an infrastructure centered around EVs, PHVs, FCVs. Utilizing ITS technology and providing a smart community foundation, Toyota City is aiming to become the "the world's best mutual community for cars and people". It is an attempt to create an all-inclusive society that allows anyone to move around freely, providing information about major roads and tourist information through ITS spots, and a system that allows access to information with QR codes.
Station Core, a representation of a train station in a future city at SMC, will show the newest technology in personal mobility solutions at the "Personal Mobility Lab" exhibition. Please experience the "future of communication between cars and people" at the exhibit, displaying the utilization of ICT, multilingual support, support and safety for the elderly and handicapped, all aimed at the internationalization of Japan by the year 2020.