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15:36 19 January 2017

High-tech Japanese toilets to become more foreigner friendly

TOKYO, Jan. 19, Kyodo

As more foreigners choose Japan as a holiday destination, the country's toilet manufacturers have joined forces in an effort to simplify the sometimes complicated business of washing and drying -- Japanese style.

The Japan Sanitary Equipment Industry Association said recently they will introduce eight standardized pictograms for the multifunction toilet seats, including icons depicting warm water washing, drying and seat heating.

The nine manufacturers belonging to the association will introduce the pictograms, featuring what they hope will be obvious designs, in their new products to be launched in April or later.

"We believe Japan can enhance its charm by making sure that people coming from abroad can use toilets, which are clean and comfortable, without stress," said Madoka Kitamura, head of the association and president of industry leader Toto Ltd.

A 2014 survey found many foreigners have difficulty understanding how to use Japanese toilets because of the complicated buttons on the control panel featuring icon designs that are specific to each manufacturer.

The Japanese companies also aim to make the new pictograms an international standard in toilets, eventually.

The number of foreign visitors to Japan rose for the fifth straight year in 2016, when it jumped 21.8 percent to 24 million, surpassing the 20 million mark for the first time.

The government set a target of attracting 40 million tourists in 2020, when Japan will host the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

==Kyodo

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