In a country that prides itself on punctuality and overall courtesy to its citizens, it’s both a delight and a wake-up call to foreigners in other countries to read about just how far this sense of Japanese decorum goes. According to the Tsukuba Express in a press release to its valued riders that dropped earlier this week (Nov. 14, 2017) their management expressed its deepest apologizes for one of its trains leaving the platform 20 seconds too early.

Tsukuba Express
A shot of the Tsukuba Express as it arrives, presumably, on time.

Not only that, it seems no one even complained about them leaving the Minami Nagareyama Station stating, “As of 16:00, there are no declarations, etc. that the customer was unable to board the train from the customer.”

Check out a screenshot of their statement translated thanks to the powers of the internet below.

The 5255 train (departure for Akihabara 9: 17, ordinary Moriya) arrived at Minamiyukariyama Station at 9:43:40 on scheduled time around November 14 (Tue) 9:44. The crewman handled the passengers on board after opening the door. After that, when departing at 9:44:40 on time, I closed the door without checking the departure time sufficiently and departed (departure operation) at 9:44:20. As a result, although there was no difference from the station timetable, the event occurred about 20 seconds earlier than scheduled. Please note that there are no customer complaints in this matter.

Moreover, as if the shame of it all (/s) wasn’t enough, Tsukuba Express further went on to ensure that corrective measures were put into place (e.g. retraining) to make sure such an egregious act won’t occur in the future.

We taught the crew so that the basic actions to prevent recurrence are thoroughly carried out.

If anything, since the train left that much earlier, passengers probably benefited from arriving marginally earlier than expected.

In the United States, delays, especially for public transportation, are the norm. The equivalent trains system here in California, Bay Area Rapid Transit, even recognizes that delays are so normal that they have special advisories issued for trains more than 10 mins late. BART trains are so mismanaged that during especially heavy traffic seasons, BART tells you to expect delays of over 40-60 minutes.  In Japan, surely that would be grounds for firing the entire board of management before people’s time can be respected. And I can’t even imagine the delays that New York Subway passengers have to endure.

According to the Hiragana Times, punctuality of this level has always been a thing in Japan ever since the country’s biggest industries adopted a systematic approach to management thanks to efficiency expert of the time, Fredrick Taylor. Taylorism focused heavily on large amounts of higher management to constantly critique the system and make it better.

Perhaps, one day, such level of punctuality will start somewhere here in the United States, become popularized, and be the norm for society. In reality, I wouldn’t bet on it anytime soon. In the meantime, we can take a page from the Tsukuba Express and fess up to our time foibles, lay out a corrective action, and stick to it.

h/t- Rocket News 24



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