Buddhist Temple Uses "Safety Reasons" To Reject Wheelchair
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 5, 2004
NAGANO, JAPAN--Citing "safety reasons", officials at an historic Nagano temple have refused to allow a wheelchair user to attend one of its major events of the year, the Mainichi Daily News reported Thursday.
The unnamed 59-year-old man called the Buddhist Zenkoji Temple in mid-January to ask if they were inviting members of the public to participate in the February 3 "Setsubun" bean-throwing event which marks the beginning of spring in the traditional calendar.
A Zenkoji official informed the man that they were indeed accepting applications. But when the man said that he uses a wheelchair, the official told him that the limit had just been reached and that they could not accept his application.
A spokesperson for the 1,400-year-old temple admitted that they had refused admission to the man for "safety reasons".
"We have a delicate security plan for the event at the moment," the spokesperson is quoted as saying. "If we admit wheelchair users we will be forced to review the entire plan. I don't think it could be easily done."
The spokesperson added that the man was the first wheelchair user to ask to join the Setsubun event since it began in 1952.
Wheelchair ramps were installed at Zenkoji in 1997. The following year, the temple hosted a concert as part of "Art Paralympic," an exhibition for artists with disabilities. The audience of 600 included 20 wheelchair users, the paper noted.