Only in Japan where a train’s departure, 20 seconds earlier than schedule, is an offense not taken lightly.
Japanese rail company Tsukuba Express has made international headlines for taking the time to apologize to the public for a minor screw up that other countries might easily ignore. In a statement, operators of the train line running between Tokyo and the city of Tsukuba expressed that they “sincerely apologize for the inconvenience” caused by the early departure.
According to the company, the train was scheduled to leave at 9:44:40 local time but left at 9:44:20. The easily forgivable error reportedly happened because an employee neglected to check the timetable. “On November 14, at approximately 9:44 a.m., a northbound Metropolitan Intercity Railway Company (main office in Tokyo, Chiyoda Ward, President & CEO Koichi Yugi) train left Minami Nagareyama Station roughly 20 seconds earlier than the time indicated on the timetable. We deeply apologize for the severe inconvenience imposed upon our customers,” the company statement said as translated from Japanese by Rocketnews24.
It pointed out that, at the very least, none of the passengers complained about the early departure from Minami Nagareyama Station, located north of Tokyo.
Social media users from around the world were surprised to learn about the company’s apology, reports the BBC. But it is simply Japan being Japan, the home of one of the most reliable railways in the world, where departures are always on schedule and even the smallest of delays are rare.
Tsukuba Express line takes passengers from Akihabara in eastern Tokyo to Tsukuba in about 45 minutes.