Joel Callen


Thu, 4 Jun, 2015

Why is Japan thinking about putting toilets in elevators?

Why is Japan thinking about putting toilets in elevators?

Government officials in Japan have had meetings this week to discuss the logistics of providing toilets in elevators. Why, you ask? Last weekend Tokyo was struck by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake, which cut power to the city. Dozens of people were left stranded in lifts for over an hour without access to a toilet.

Just days later, the infrastructure ministry and elevator industry bodies were in meetings to look at solutions to the problem. Ideas for the toilets included a collapsible cardboard structure with a waterproof bag, or even utilising pre-existing seats for the elderly by installing toilets underneath. Also discussed was the possibility of providing emergency supplies of drinking water in lifts. But just why is this an important issue?

Of Japan’s 620,000 elevators nationwide, around 20 per cent of them are in Tokyo. The capital city sits at the junction of four tectonic plates and is prone to powerful earthquakes. Government officials that a huge earthquake is due to hit the city in coming decades, and they want to be prepared for every possibility.

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