Japanese city’s plan to make convenience store toilets stink, owners think

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Free toilet paper not worth the potential risks and odors, say naysayers.

The city of Yamato, Kanagawa Prefecture, has a problem. He doesn’t have enough public toilets.

That’s the conclusion reached by the city’s government after comparing its roughly 242,000 residents to its own. 46 public toiletsmainly in stations and parks. This number of public toilets has remained more or less the same for the past 20 years, but while the city thinks it needs more, it worries about the price.because he estimates that the construction of new public toilets would cost, at the very least, several million yen (equivalent to tens of thousands of US dollars).

But then city planners took a look at another number that gave them hope: 110. This is the approximate number of convenience stores in Yamato, and so on the new plan of the municipal government is to transform the workers of these stores into public toilets.

▼ As part of the initiative, convenience stores display a sticker at their entrance indicating that their washrooms are open to the public.

Participation in the program is optional, and Yamato began recruiting interested stores in February. However, while those behind the plan apparently think it’s a great idea, store owners aren’t as enthusiastic about it. Currently, only seven of the city’s 110 convenience stores have signed on as partners.and with three of them managed by the same person, that makes a maximum of five owners who are willing to serve as public toilets.

It’s not hard to see why so many people are reluctant. To start, the only compensation participating stores receive for their civic contribution is 200 rolls of free toilet paper from the city, broken down into two batches of 100 rolls each over a year. Extra cleaning products or time needed to keep the bathroom clean despite increased use? It’s all about the store and its staff. “It should be cleaned morning, noon and night. It would break us.” said an owner refusing to participate.

▼ Public toilets, but private sector cleaning.

There’s also the unpleasant mental image of having a public restroom directly attached to your store or, from another perspective, having your store attached to a public restroom. With Japan’s high societal value on cleanliness, buying bento boxes, rice balls, bottled tea and other things to put in your mouth near an all-purpose toilet is not not particularly pleasant. proposal. 200 rolls of free toilet paper won’t be seen by most owners as enough economic benefit for shop owners worried about losing customers to one of their dozens of competitors in town who don’t have toilets public on their premises.

▼ You can get a 72-roll pack of toilet paper on Amazon Japan for around 5,500 yen, which makes the monetary value of the free 200 rolls somewhere in the meager 15,000 yen (US$124) ballpark.

But perhaps the weirdest part of the plan is that most convenience stores in Japan already allow visitors to use their restrooms. Technically they’re for customers, and good manners say you should ask a member of staff if it’s OK before using them, but in general convenience stores are happy to accommodate such requests (the stores in bar districts are common exceptions to this, but that’s not much of a problem in Yamato, which isn’t exactly a party town). Completing the “for clients” portion of the arrangement is also quite easy. Most stores will consider you a customer as long as you legitimately view their wares, whether you end up buying something or not. Even if you personally feel obligated to buy something as a thank you for being allowed to use the bathroom, every convenience store in Japan offers soft drinks, mints, candies, and more. non-perishable food for around 100 yen (0.82 USD), and buying one is enough to keep everyone happy.

So, in a sense, Yamato’s convenience store toilets already work quite closely with public toilets, so it’s understandable that they’re in no rush to shrink this company further. For its part, the Yamato city government still hopes to convince 50 stores to participate in the poop partnership by spring next year, but given the slow start, they may end up having to throw the plan off the hook. sewers.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun via Yahoo! Japan News via Jin, Yamato CityAmazon Japan
Top Image: Pakutaso

Insert images: Yamato City, Pakutaso (1, 2)
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