Japanese punctuality culture
This is a very, very incisive report on the deadly train accident down near Takarazuka, Osaka, Japan.
Norimitsu Onishi, who writes for the NY Times, hits the core issue when he focuses on the punctuality culture of Japan. The argument is that the extreme focus on punctuality in Japan caused this accident because the young train conductor was focused on being on time moreso than being safe.
Across the country, the accident has already caused much soul-searching over Japan’s attention – some would say obsession – with punctuality and efficiency. To many, the driver’s single-minded focus on making up the 90 seconds seemed to reveal the weak points of a society where the trains do really run on time, but where people have lost sight of the bigger picture.
“Japanese believe that if they board a train, they’ll arrive on time,” said Yasuyuki Sawada, a 49-year-old railway worker, who had come to look at the crash site. “There is no flexibility in our society; people are not flexible, either.”
Sawada was one of many who came to stand and watch behind the yellow police line here, and who saw hidden in this accident deeper problems.
“If you go abroad, you find that trains don’t necessarily arrive on time,” Sawada said. “This disaster was produced by Japanese civilization and Japanese people.”
In Japan, punctuality proved deadly [iht.com]