Netizens debate on whether to allow assistance dogs into public spaces in Japan.

Guide dogs help the visually impaired get to their destinations safely, and while there are tools like talking glasses already available to the blind in Japan, few can truly match the companionship and trust afforded by an assistance dog.

Invaluable as they may be to blind people though, Japanese society isn’t so accommodating to the presence of these animals. A recent survey carried out on 235 visually impaired respondents who use guide dogs revealed that 63 percent have experienced being refused entry into stores within the past one year.

▼ What kinds of stores would turn away guide dogs?

That would seem like unjust discrimination on first glance, but peel away the layers and a trend becomes apparent. 78.7 percent of the rejection stem from food stores, 28 percent from taxis, and 21.3 percent from hotels (multiple survey entries allowed), places where hygiene and cleanliness are top priority.

When turned away in such situations, 68 percent of respondents attempted to explain their circumstances while 25.3 percent silently retreated to prevent creating a scene.

In addition to being refused entry, 26.9 percent of respondents claimed they had been insulted, their pictures taken, or videos recorded without permission.

▼ All it wants to do is to make your life easier.

Japanese netizens voiced their opinions on the matter:

“People who are used to dogs might not notice the smell, but they still reek even when clean. I honestly don’t want one coming into a restaurant.”

“It’s a health code violation to bring animals into a restaurant. Even if organizations lobby to exclude guide dogs, the store will still have to answer for any food poisoning complaints.”

“What about people with pet allergies or those who can’t cope well with dogs?”

“If the guide dog or owner takes responsibility for food poisoning, then everything will be solved.”

“I can understand if the restaurant refuses entry, but to go so far as taking pictures and hurling insults? They’ve really overstepped their authority.”

The visually impaired are people who deserve human rights just like everyone else, but on the other hand, so do the people sharing public spaces with the guide dog. It’s a difficult subject to say the least, with nonprofit organizations finding little hope of finding a suitable compromise.

In the meantime though, at least we can be happy that Japan helps out blind pedestrians with bumpy ground indicators and walking signal chirps, both of which are found in great abundance throughout the country.

Source: Eyemate Association via Niconico News, Hachima Kikou
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: GAHAG (1, 2)