‘Only in Japan’: Tokyo train apologizes for 20-second early departure

‘Only in Japan’: Tokyo train apologizes for 20-second early departure
A Tokyo train company issued an official apology after one of its trains departed 20 seconds early. That’s right, 20 seconds. The announcement was met with amusement online.

One of the Metropolitan Intercity Railway Company’s Tsukuba Express line trains left the Minami Nagareyama Station at 9:43:40 instead of 9:44 on Tuesday, sparking apparent panic among employees.

Japanese trains are known for their punctuality, and the early departure apparently mortified the Tsukuba Express management. Before the day’s end, it published an official apology on its website.  

“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,” the statement read. “We deeply apologize for the severe inconvenience imposed upon our customers.”

While the apology may appear to be overkill, particularly for those of us who deal with erratic public transport on a daily basis, the early departure may have messed up a few commuters’ journeys.

The northern line connects Akihabara with Tsukuba, and leaves every four minutes, but if a passenger depends on catching that 9:44 train in order to catch another connecting train at a different station, the early departure could have resulted in them being late to work.