For promoting clean, safe and comfortable public lavatories, a total of 28 municipalities and businesses have received the Japanese government's first toilet awards, the media reported.
The recipients for Toilet Awards Japan, launched earlier this year, were selected from among 378 applicants by six ministries. The awards were presented on Friday, the Japan Times reported.
Tokyu Department Store Co., the Sapporo Cultural Arts Foundation and nine other winners were given the women's empowerment minister award for making women's restrooms more attractive, such as by making space for breast-feeding and by shortening waiting lines.
In a shopping area at the Shibuya Hikarie commercial complex in Tokyo, Tokyu has spaces featuring art displays, background music and special fragrances that are "called 'switch rooms' instead of restrooms because they are designed to give visitors a change of mood," said Tokyu official Kazuo Nakano.
"We want to have our female visitors feel relaxed and enable working women to switch between their business and private moods," he added.
Improving women's toilets will lead to a society that is comfortable for all, including men, the disabled and tourists, said Arimura, who is leading the government's toilet beautification initiative.
The government is looking to make Japanese restrooms more friendly for tourists from abroad ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
Narita International Airport Corp. and Tokyo International Air Terminal Corp. were among the seven who received the tourism minister award for promoting the charms of Japanese toilets as a way of attracting tourists.