Tokyo is a model example of a mature society. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games present an opportunity to dramatically change our city. Here I would like to introduce some of the initiatives we are taking to accelerate the creation of the "new Tokyo" as we approach the Games.
The maintenance of safety and a sense of security is fundamental to the success of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games and to the sustainable development of Tokyo beyond the Games. Above all, we must implement infallible measures to address the greatest threat facing our city -- that of a major earthquake directly hitting Tokyo. Since districts with close-set wooden houses are expected to suffer serious damage, in addition to the fireproofing of buildings, we will strongly promote the construction of "designated routes for improvement," which serve significant roles in blocking the spread of fire as well as facilitating evacuation and rescue activities.
Now, moving on to utility poles, Japan features about as many of these as it does its symbolic cherry trees. Amounting to as many as 35 million around the country, utility poles can be said to be another "symbol" of Japan. I wish to totally rid Tokyo of utility poles, and I plan to make that my goal. They could fall over in earthquakes and disrupt rescue and recovery activities; they spoil the view; they are a nuisance for baby strollers and wheelchair users. "No utility poles" should be the new norm for Japan. We would like to consider presenting a bill promoting the removal of utility poles, while also taking account of developments at the national level.
Last month in Fukuoka City, a massive sinkhole opened at a subway construction site. The cause of the accident has been put down to construction work, but it served to strongly remind us of the importance of effectively maintaining and managing our infrastructure. Appropriate TMG-wide measures must be taken to manage Tokyo-owned infrastructure and facilities including roads, water supply and sewer systems, hospitals, and metropolitan housing. We will continue to promote the comprehensive and systematic maintenance of the essential infrastructure that supports the city's vitality and sustain Tokyo's safety and security without fail.
In addition to such measures related to infrastructure, something that will help those with infants to feel safe and secure is liquid baby formula, which can be used in times of disaster when hot water is not available. I have been advocating this for some time, and now the national government is finally considering the removal of barriers to the production and sale of liquid baby formula. Keeping a watch on developments at the national level, we will sift through the tasks that need to be addressed to spread its use, and integrate this into detailed countermeasures for disasters.
As an Olympic and Paralympic Games host city that respects diversity, we will further transform Tokyo into a place full of kindness where all differences are overcome and everyone can spend an enjoyable time. With regard to making roads barrier-free, this will be introduced to roads near Olympic venues and around key tourist sites by the 2020 Games, and by fiscal 2024, to a set number of metropolitan roads linking train stations and life-related facilities. In addition, the "Tokyo 2020 Accessibility Guidelines," which lays out both the tangible and non-tangible barrier-free criteria for the operation of the Games, will be utilized in urban development as well to introduce universal design throughout the city for the benefit of the elderly and the disabled.
At the same time, we will promote a barrier-free mindset. We will begin studies on proposing an ordinance to deepen understanding of society as a whole toward those with disabilities and further drive measures to eliminate discrimination. While listening carefully to the opinions of disabled people, we will engage in developing mechanisms for consultation and resolution of disputes, and facilitating mutual understanding using various methods of communication, and support the participation of the disabled in society. In these ways, we will pave the way toward an "aspirational" Tokyo where everyone is able to fully demonstrate their capabilities.
One benchmark for a Tokyo full of kindness is the zero culling of abandoned pets. To that end, we designated November as "Animal Adoption Month," and through promotion events and videos, strengthened efforts to find new homes for dogs and cats placed into care. We hope to continue to find ways to advance this movement with the goal of eliminating the culling of abandoned pets by 2020.
Through the Rio de Janeiro Olympic and Paralympic Games, we were highly inspired by athletes from around the world. Watching those performances, I am sure that many were moved to think, "I want to do sports as well." Sports do not just help make individuals healthy; they also carry many benefits including community revitalization and significant economic effects, and create connections that go beyond differences in values. In the run up to the Rugby World Cup 2019 and the Tokyo 2020 Games, we will formulate a new "Sports Promotion Plan" to clarify our direction for sports promotion, which will also include these new perspectives. We want Tokyo to be a city where citizens young and old, with or without disability, can all partake in sports and lead vibrant lives. And through the vitality of each individual that is generated through such an environment, we wish to have Tokyo shine even more brightly. With the aim to realize such a "sports city," we plan to draw up the plan within the next fiscal year while referring to the views of athletes and experts.
In preparation for Tokyo 2020, which is also a great festival of culture, we will heighten the attractiveness of Tokyo and Japan's culture from traditional performing arts to the immensely popular anime and manga. The other day, we held the "Tokyo 2020 Cultural Olympiad" kick-off event in Nihombashi. Just as Nihombashi was the starting point for the five major highways spreading out from Edo, it will be the place from where Japan's culture will be disseminated to the world. To that end as well, while involving a wide range of players including from the private sector, we will roll out a diverse cultural program over a period of four years, which I hope will increase Japan's fans around the world.
Last month, I attended the starting ceremony of the Tohoku Rokkon Festival Parade, which is part of this cultural program. This parade gathers together festivals from the six prefectures of the Tohoku region. It was a powerful performance carrying prayers for lost ones, the spirit of recovery, as well as a message of gratitude for support, and captivated the 20,000 spectators who gathered to watch. While promoting the attractions of all of Japan through the cultural program, we will also convey to the world the concept of the "Games for Recovery" and show the extent of recovery of areas that were devastated by disaster.
The smoke-free initiatives called for by the IOC are now also a global trend. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has been working to prevent passive smoking by raising public awareness of the effects of smoking on health, and taking measures such as providing support to hotels and eating/drinking establishments that are engaging in separating smoking area for the acceptance of foreign visitors. The central government is advancing efforts to establish legislation, such as announcing a proposal to make all eateries and other establishments smoke-free in principle, with penalties imposed for violation. We will continue to keep a close eye on these developments, and consider further ways for the metropolitan government to address this issue.