‘Jisa Biz’ campaign to ease overcrowding on Tokyo trains starts Monday


In an effort to ease to ease overcrowding on trains during morning rush hour, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government will start its “Jisa Biz” staggered commuting” campaign on Monday.

The campaign, which debuted last summer, is the brainchild of Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike. The term “Jisa Biz” (jisa meaning “time difference”) was coined by Koike.


Last year, about 320 companies participated. This year, Koike said that more than 700 will take part in the campaign, in which companies and municipal governments are promoting flexible work hours and telecommuting, Fuji TV reported.

“I would like to make comfortable commutes a common occurrence in Tokyo,” the governor stated.

The campaign is scheduled to occur twice – from July 9 to Aug 10, and again in late January next year. While “Jisa Biz” was a two-week campaign in mid-July last year, the Tokyo government is working to ultimately make it a permanent fixture to counteract the notoriously packed trains during rush hour.

Starting Monday, railway operators will boost the number of early morning trains and introduce an app that allows commuters to conveniently check the congestion status. About 60 companies participated in an exchange meeting last week to discuss ideas, such as providing breakfast at work, to urge employees to opt for early morning attendance.

The train congestion rates of many railways in the Tokyo area can be well over 150 percent for the morning rush hour, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. On some lines, the rates almost reach 200 percent.

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Chubby is the new sexy

-12 ( +8 / -20 )

Wow, and to think that some people stereotype Japanese as being slim.

-5 ( +12 / -17 )

Why is this campaign only for July August?? Why can’t it be year round. I know you wouldn’t call it campaign then, but just saying. And what’s with some people commenting on some random picture instead of the content of the article.

19 ( +26 / -7 )

I wonder how long the photographer wandered around platforms to get that

"Perfect Shot".

10 ( +14 / -4 )

Why is this campaign only for July August?? Why can’t it be year round.

The article says

While “Jisa Biz” was a two-week campaign in mid-July last year, the Tokyo government is working to ultimately make it a permanent fixture

My guess is that the campaign is also a test to see what measures to implement long-term.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Let's hope that this goes over better than "Premium Friday".

27 ( +27 / -0 )

''to urge employees to opt for early morning attendance.''

Yeah. Come in early. Oh, and since you're in early, why not do a little unpaid overtime?

27 ( +27 / -0 )

It seems diet campaign for crowded train.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Had to re read. First thought Jisaburo was Japanese English for something else.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

200% overcapacity trains?

Hell on earth!

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Should be as ineffective as cool biz and premium Friday for most companies.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Another example of bad planning, seems the infrastructure was planned for the moment and not the future usage. Trains, motorways, roads, again these bizarre ideas to somehow fix it with a "campaign" a mascot and all is well. Come in early, yep freeee overtime, no one is going to leave early? I admire the intention but as above mentioned cool biz, Premium Friday's, it just won't happen. 200% overcrowded now just wait for the saviour our Lord the Olympics.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

If you want to ease overcrowding tell this guy to stop stuffing his face with gyoza. And I hate people like this who wait until the last moment and back in

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

Thank God I don’t live in Tokyo! Couldn’t live like that.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Bit of fat shaming, no? The real issue is the disgusting inflexibility of JP companies, schools and governments to not allow flexible arrival and departure times and more comfortably utilize the mass transit. I literally almost quit last month when I got on and the next stop the crush came and I could not breath. Horrible way to spend any part of the day. It is NOT ALRIGHT to assault people just because you may be late for your pathetic job!

16 ( +16 / -0 )

Many of the Tokyo trains are atrociously packed in the mornings. I travel from Chiba into Tokyo pretty regularly (not every day thankfully) and the Tozai and Keiyo lines are ridiculous. Some trains you can’t even get on due them being packed to the rafters. Then, when you get into the Tokyo subway system at station stop like Monzennakacho or Ginza it becomes even worse. And, from what I know, some of the trains coming from Kawasaki and Kanagawa are even worse. It is a good thing to see them ‘attempting to’ address this problem, but without the full support of both companies and commuters it is not going to make any difference. I know that, many people already leave home around 6am to avoid the peak hour rush, but don’t start work until 10am. They sit in cafes drinking coffeee until work time. Flexible working hours are not a practice answer. Companies need to coordinate and stager opening times. 99% of companies start work at either 9 or 10am, which is morning tea time where I come from. Companies that are not in the retail sector should all start much earlier. They need to stagger starting times of each industry to ensure a realistic breakdown of commuters.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Come on, this is Japan. NOTHING will change.

18 ( +19 / -1 )

@Pukey2: "Come on, this is Japan. NOTHING will change."

I have been here since the early 90's and I observe a lot has changed. Seishain jobs are much harder to get and it seems most available jobs are hakken or part-time. A good percentage of young persons have given up on marriage and children. The number of mid-30 year old women in Tokyo living with their parents with no boyfriend but a nice dog, astonishes me. I think this is the lost generation(s).

17 ( +17 / -0 )

Photo: Fat shaming, no doubt in my mind. For all we know, that man may have a medical condition.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Crowded trains have been going on for ages, as long as I was there. We used to paraphrase Sagami-ono as "Sagami oh no! because that's where the Odiakyu line got so dang crowded. Staggering working times would help but I don't think you can ever beat the problem.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

"Jisa biz" is too long. Shorten it to "Jiz".

11 ( +12 / -1 )

JR should introduce more trains in the rush hours to accommodate huge rush of commuters . This situation of overcrowding in trains is intolerable.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

"Tokyoites Rush To Commuting Hell," By Ronald E. Yates, Chicago Tribune:

The article mentions the same problems, with the same campaign-style flex-hour solutions not working.

The article is from October 28, 1990. Here we are 30 years later, still facing the same problem, trying the same failed solutions. As Reckless said, the lost 30 years. 失われた30年.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

in absolutely no way will I miss read that as Jiz Biz, nor anyone else in the world

6 years of English, 6 years! I can't even....

4 ( +4 / -0 )

36 million in the metro area, more than a third of that in Tokyo alone, trains running way over capacity and no way to add more capacity. Unless companies are willing to run three shifts a day and people commute 24/6, there is little chance this will improve things. Why not work from home? It's not like most people ever get off work, anyway. The model where everything has to be done face-to-face and workers have to exhaust themselves psychologically sweating over having possibly offended a superior of customer unintentionally needs to be retired. Why has no one connected this to the low level of productivity in Japan?

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Wonder why some people comment on the picture and forget what the article is about. Hope flexitimes become a norm in Japan someday.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Thank God I don’t live in Tokyo! Couldn’t live like that. totally agreed, I went into the city on Friday for business and when it came time to leave all the rds were shut down because of the rains. I mean its bad during rush hr but what normally takes about 50minutes trip took me 3 hrs!. once I was in the semi rural area where I live there was almost 0 traffic. Seriously you couldnt pay me enough to move back to the city, there comes a time when the stresses of overcrowding , traffic, pollution far outweigh the illusion of convenience

5 ( +5 / -0 )

How many times have you had to squeeze into a crowded train with everybody huddled at the door and nobody standing in the middle of the carriage? This really annoys me! I will often just drive my way through the sheep to get to uncrowded center of the carriage. Then, when you try to get off, there is always that one idiot that stands in the middle of the doorway with a death grip on the overhead handrail and will not move. I have often dropped my shoulder into these idiots and just driven them off the train. It's all well and good to try to address the overcrowding of the trains, but there is a bigger need to educate the zombies on correct train manners and etiquette.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

No overtime pay if you work from home. Some policies makes it so you can only charge core time

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I love having other people's sweat trickle down my body, could almost share their breakfast just from their breath. The fight to the door, missing my stop. Living in Tokyo is such a joy. Must be why I'm country side. And rapturous.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Can you imagine the stench during the summer?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Just slightly tacky using a photo of an over weight passenger with this headline if you ask me.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

For the rush hours they should introduce stranding only trains with more doors.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I don’t live in Tokyo, but in Osaka. Most problem here is that everyone is keeping their huge rucksack on and stand in front of the door. Especially students. Nobody is moving inside.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Sorry but... why is it that every time I read about some new campaign in Japan to change things for the better... I roll my eyes and think.... nope, ain't gonna work. Maybe I'm that way because, it never does. There are never and teeth in their method. Everything is about politely asking and prodding but no real incentives to change. Here is an idea... offer complying companies a corporate tax discount. Hmmm... actual monetary incentive... might work. Or how about this.... yeah... let employees work from their actual home. But the average insecure Japanese person might not be able to handle that.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

London in the mornings is far worse I have lived for several years in both. At least in Tokyo people are polite and shower regularly and there are no picket pockets. You can even get some floor to stand on sometimes.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Good idea. I like good ideas. Ideas are fun to come up with.

A slack day at the office and a sugar rush from biscuits can produce fantastic things.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

only 3 or 4 decades behind the times.... and then just a 中途半端 tokenism....

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I think all know how this will end up working; companies will use this to ask commuters to come in earlier, and leave later. It'll be called "staggered commuting", not unpaid overtime.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

For the rush hours they should introduce stranding only trains with more doors.

Then what about the elderly, pregnant women, or people with back problems who can't stand for that long but who also need to take the morning train? Ever thought about that?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Lorem ipsum

Then what about the elderly, pregnant women, or people with back problems who can't stand for that long but who also need to take the morning train? Ever thought about that?

Just because they take a train does not mean they will also be given a seat. I'm elderly with a back problem but not pregnant so I avoid taking the train during peak times. They can wait for a train with seats.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The trains are much quieter at 5am, so why not move the start time to 6am ? The benefits being it's cooler in Summer, also in order to ease congestion in the evening companies can ask Employees to leave later thus benefits for all - employee wont need sunglasses as they will arrive in the Dark, and leave in the Dark, plus think of all the expensive electricity bills that they will be saving back home.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Just have a separate room where all of the employees can sleep on futons. It's not like people have a decent work-life balance anyway.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

BI sharma, as far as I can understand the rail net work is beyond capacity IE they can't run any more trains due to the shear volume of trains, its very difficult to "just put another one one" as it affects the timing of other trains. as for making the trains longer, well are the platforms long enough? the easiest thing is to move out of Tokyo and find another town to relocate your business to. as for the flexible working time well thats just a start, will they be flexible if finishing early to compensate the crush on the way home, how about working from home? if its a computer based office job why can't some of it be done at home?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

BI Sharma:

JR should introduce more trains in the rush hours to accommodate huge rush of commuters . This situation of overcrowding in trains is intolerable.

In case you haven't noticed, the timetables are already packed, especially lines like Yamanote. I'm surprised you didn't suggest sitting or standing on the roof of the carriages.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Reading the comments here makes me wonder how exactly is everyone integrated in the Japanese society. So many opinions, remarks and conclusions about "the companies", "the employees", "commuters", as if no one is part of the system. If you're not, it would be great to share interesting insight about how you managed not to be among "the employees" of "the companies"; if you are, then please tell us how you've dealt with the issue described in the article and whether you have suggested any of the solutions to your management. Personally, I'm more amazed at how foreigners adopt far too quickly and far too earnestly all the well-known criticized habits of the Japanese work culture. I've seen a good number of foreign employees (and I don't speak about Chinese low-skilled workers at all) who master the defects of the work-life balance without a hint of disappointment. We may criticize the Japanese work system all we want, but as long as foreigners come and eagerly adopt the practices instead of bringing fresh air of change, things will indeed remain the same.

As for the crowded trains, in Tokyo this is more of a morning rush hour issue. In the evenings it's not really that bad as everyone leaves office at a different time depending on how much zangyo they do. The company I work at starts at 10 am, and around 9:30 am the Yamanote Line is already not so crowded. I usually ride the last car and most of the time find a seat. In my opinion, it's a better idea to introduce later starting time rather than earlier - another reason being that earlier hours are bound to have more employees or travelers going for the Shinkansen/airport with suitcases that occupy space in the trains.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Wont work. How many decades has this been going on, and now for some reason they try to change it? Anyone who knows anything about "the Japanese" knows that they don't deal well with change. This is the next premium Friday

2 ( +2 / -0 )

They already have Flex Time in Japan: Start as early as you want and leave as late as you want.

God forbid you would even think about the converse though.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Foreigners bringing a fresh air of change? That will go down real well. Been part of the system most miserable time of my life, Did the morning crush, the dodge the noodles evening trains. And well, as I do love Japan, found an income stream that does not involve Tokyo. But I'm lucky. Starting latter might work. But never happen because that would envolve change. It's an infrastructure problem that now is unsolvable. As the locals say "Shogani"

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Should they make the big guy in the photo pay double fair like they try to do on plains?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Out of living in Japan for more than 25 years, I only lived in Tokyo for the first six months before moving to Nagano for about ten years and then to Kobe. I can't even remember the last time I visited Tokyo, more than 10 years. Wife goes sometimes to visit her sister. I think I made the right decision on where to live.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Other solutions perhaps are longer trains and platforms, or smarter signalling systems to allow trains to run closer together.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

As someone in Tokushima said to me before I moved to Kanto in 1986, 'the one thing worse than taking trains in Tokyo is getting used to it'. And it was 150-200% then, on Tokaido-sen and Yokosuka-sen, even at 10pm.

Osaka subway just as bad but more expensive, Midori-sen and so on.

The big guy in the pic, well, at least with the numbers and the social anonymity in Tokyo the lady in white is having just a once-in-a-while experience. Till the next time that is.

At least Kochi has no subway. Just a lot of rain these days.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What a stupid term. Let’s just call it “Jiz”

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japanese do love abbreviated phrases - allow them contraction of “Jisa Biz”

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm not convinced countryside trains are as empty as portrayed here. Here is a list of train routes on which I've had the discomfort of standing for long in a crowded car:

Fukuoka to Saga

Kanazawa to Fukui

Kurashiki to Okayama

Matsusaka to Nagoya

Chitose to Sapporo practically every time

In central Tokyo you are still with a good chance of getting a seat within 10-15 minutes after everyone gets off at Shinjuku or another major station. But on those countryside routes especially at commute times you stand for an hour or so as there is no major station along the way.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The peak hour trains in and out of Osaka are also too be avoided if possible.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

200% overcapacity was for that one guy.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Feel very fortunate to have worked for a German owner of the firm at which I was employed. We could wear short sleeved polos in the office (unless we had meetings with outsiders of course) and we did not clock in. You were treated as an adult, you were given the support and resources to thrive and you didn’t have to come in during rush hour if you chose not to. I’d probably still be there if not for 3/11.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Ever heard of Telework?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Chubby is the new sexy

Maybe for another chubster.

Guy should be charged for two tickets since he takes up twice the space. Like on a plane when a fatty cannot fit in one seat. Happens a lot in the USA. Lord help you if you sit next to one of those folks in economy. Flab On! Maybe train companies can have a flabby car, they will use some other euphemism, with the chairs removed to make room for the extra girth.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Geez people, leave the man alone. It’s not like his size caused the congestion, it’s already congested with or without him.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Normally, taking pictures of strangers is not allowed unless they agree...I doubt these troubled people agreed on getting their picture taken lol...and yeah, what a good shot!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm not convinced countryside trains are as empty as portrayed here. 

@Phoenixikki I had the "pleasure" to ride from Nagoya (Fushimi Station) to Toyota-shi station for almost a year every morning and I think I had a chance to sit just because I was going in the opposite direction of regular commute, however my chances of sitting were still pretty slim and I had to carefully measure them. Funny thing is how you get to know where most of the strangers in the wagon get on and off the train that after some time they don't seem like strangers anymore. Thankfully this train was never as packed as the one in the picture, however the next train I had to get on from Toyota-shi station to Mikawa Toyota was pretty packed as it was a two wagon shuttle train...that one does resemble the one in the picture (and I don't see any transport improvements from Nagoya to Toyota done in the near future so thanks to the existence of only local lines a 30 km ride becomes an hour and a half ride despite the relatively short distance).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

On your bike!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Jisa Biz sounds like something that Jar Jar Binks does on a Tuesday afternoon.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My commute on the Asakusa-sen this morning - not a bit of difference and still packed. In fact, I would argue that it was more crowded than usual with queues onto the departing platform and mass queues at my arrival station.

introduce an app that allows commuters to conveniently check the congestion status

? Don't need an App. I can predict that that my trains will be rammed Monday to Friday.

About 60 companies participated in an exchange meeting last week to discuss ideas, such as providing breakfast at work, to urge employees to opt for early morning attendance.

They really don't care about the real issues. People have to leave early enough as it is. Most commuters travel from far and won't have time for breakfast. So people are not going to leave even earlier.

The only real solution? Make it a law that every company has to have a certain percentage of shift work - early shift finishing early and late shift finishing later. Make it law. And ban overtime unless approved in advance and specific to what has to be completed.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Jisa biz or not; in most companies, the poor old workers will still have to wait for for 'buchou' to go home, before they can leave...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Coming in early to work in a japanese company is like a suicide. No matter how early you come, the time you get to go home will be the same.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I am also a bucho. But I am a gaijin bucho. I make sure I tell my staff to go home when they are working late. Its not rocket science for a head to check on staff working late but Japanese bucho are the problem. The other problem is that even though I proactively ask my staff to finish on time, Japanese staff just can't seem to shake off the sitting around late thing.

If the government made it law that overtime must be approved one week in advance with written reasons for the overtime, you would see it improve.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I agree with TigersTokyoDome. Working late and "hanging out" at the office even though everyone wants to home is a unfortunate office culture here.

Even if supervisor is already gone, the atmosphere and timing must be right to go home or else the colleagues just sit around and do nothing.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Joe Yan, right. And it's not difficult to fix. In my management meetings I put the excessive overtime issue onto the managers. Anyone working too late is the responsibility of the manager. You just need to walk around at the end of the day and ask your staff whats keeping them late.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

And to think that people will really change their schedules. Fat chance!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Half the population live in or around either Tokyo or Osaka. Ultimately there isn’t much you can do when so many people insist on living and working in such close proximity of each other. Believe it or not but there is a good amount of leg room to be had elsewhere in Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )


0 ( +0 / -0 )

No way is that door closing

0 ( +0 / -0 )

May as well contribute-

I agree in the evenings I would ride yamamoto daily from Kanda to Meguro - train was never busy after 7.00pm in that direction - not all trains are like that picture.

I think Solution to this is CYLCLES - even MARIO Carts since they are road legal as well

The last company I worked I would cycle even in summer and I remember shachos look when he saw me from time to time - his face just said we PAY you take the train - therein lies the problem imhao

cycles are everywhere with convenient parking at the stations themselves and distance between stations is hardly far - the issue is Japanese people think cycling especially to the office is "dangerous" - thoughts ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Longer trains on lines where most stations could be extended - maybe they won’t stop at stations where the don’t fit. Two story carriages - there are some already but there should be more. Some ‘standing only’ carriages, but not all.

I realize these ideas would require significant investment by rail companies, but such intense overcrowding must provide significant revenue

Limits to the numbers of people permitted in carriages. Paint footprints on the floor. No standing between prints. Overcrowding can’t be safe or healthy, and if workers CAN’T reach work it would provide more incentive for companies/ commuters to help solve the problem.

And definitely cycling! Sadly most of my commutes are at least 2 hours each way.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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