Yes, the picture on the side is shaky and not very clear, partially because it was early morning for me when I took the picture, plus this man riding on the subway is just one example of a more and more common sight in Tokyo. There is no need nor importance to actually recognize the shown salary man.
Officially on the line shown in the picture the seats in the car at the back of the train are reserved solely for women from 07:30 to 09:40 in the morning and then after 22:30 in the evening again. The goal is to have a safer environment on trains, so that women are protected from chikan (痴漢, or チカン), simply because groping is still quite common in Japan in packed trains. Let me point out the man depicted on the train has no connection with the topic of groping, contrary he is just an example of a Japanese, who has become less strict about following given rules.
Another example is the increase of the illegal parking in the streets, although stricter rules have been in place the last few years and police in combination with private companies try to track down all the parking offenders, I have not seen much of a change. Potentially main streets have become less crowded on the side, but the picture below shows a typical back street of Tokyo full of illegally parked cars.
I wonder whether the issue is really about breaking a law, but more about trying to make the best out of their own lives. If the other train compartments are too crowded, why not sneak into a women’s car? If you cannot find a quiet spot to park your car for a while so you can sleep, why not doing it in a back street? Moving one step further to a bigger topic: Olympus and Woodford. Where there actually rules broken or simply managers tried their best to keep a company alive with their perceived most suitable approach? While you might have read a lot of other articles, take your time to review the excellent article by Sophie Knight, when talking to Chris Berthelsen, because unlike other articles the Japanese business culture is taken into consideration.
The more I know and have learned about Japan, now after 10 years I begin to wonder what is more important: Stability and harmony in life and do whatever it takes for the larger share of the company/society to protect it, or follow what is perceived as the “right” rules, even if it negatively affects some innocent bystanders? Is it correct to save hundreds of jobs to keep the economy going even though the law might not be followed properly? Where do you draw the line in a society that has extensive experience in working grey zones. I must say a part of me appreciates life in Japan without the strict Western black and white – right and wrong – approach, but there are times when I get lost in the grey.
Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (伊藤シビル)