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70,000 commuters delayed by quarrel over cell phone on train in Chiba

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An argument on a Sobu line local train caused turmoil for tens of thousands of passengers in Chiba Prefecture on Tuesday morning. The incident involved two men arguing over the use of cell phones and caused the train to be delayed, which in turn affected dozens of other services running in both directions.

According to Ichikawa police, the incident started at around 6:40 a.m. Two office workers were sitting in the priority seats, speaking on their cell phones when another man sitting opposite them scolded them for their bad manners. He told them to get off at the next station and finish their call there, witnesses said.

One of the pair reportedly took exception to the suggestion and a dispute broke out. When the train pulled in to Ichikawa station, another passenger disembarked and sounded the emergency alarm situated on the platform.

The two men continued to argue on the platform. The man who had been admonished for using his cell phone called the police and accused the other man of assault, alleging that the latter had seized him by the wrist. The pair were taken to the police station and underwent questioning after which they apparently reconciled.

According to JR East, the quarrel caused delays to 47 services on the Sobu line, the maximum delay being 19 minutes which affected 28 services. JR East estimates that some 70,000 commuters were affected.

© Compiled from news reports

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151 Comments
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Wow! Talk about a snowball effect...

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This is a perfect example of the nonsense argued yesterday regading the anti-smoking rules, but with no penalities. Where folks were saying Japanese adults will follow the rules -- yeah right.

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Happens quite often recently. I even had this girl in my car a few weeks ago who argued with her boyfriend on phone. I don't know her, but I know her boyfriend's name, why she is so mad at him, where he lives AND his shoe size. Too bad I had to get off the next station. It was starting to get interesting.

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Japanese people have some of the poorest mobile phone usage manners in the world. Using them on priority seats is one thing but driving and using is a different ball game.

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The man who objected must have really got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. That said, what the h**l is so important it needs to be discussed on a moving train at 0640?

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It is one thing to argue about manners on a train, it is another to hit the emergency stop button at the station which is what caused the most grief for the 70,000 commuters because it stopped not just that train but trains all up and down that line.

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Two office workers were sitting in the priority seats, speaking on their cell phones when another man sitting opposite them scolded them for their bad manners. He told them to get off at the next station and finish their call there, witnesses said.

How about if the other guy who witnessed this simply minded his own business. I can see if there was a person who had priority to sit there and being denied, but basically this guys was sticking his nose in someone else's business.

What's the differnce if the two guys were talking to each other, at the same tone? Would they be asked to be quiet?

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On Monday AM there was an guy talking on his phone in the train. Then his phone rang, he answered, and told the person that he can't talk because he is on the train. Attention monger!

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What is really surprising is that this kind of thing does not happen more often. Travelling on JR can be so stressful with the constant barrage of noise, most of which serves no purpose other than to annoy commuters. Most Japanese seem to have become completely inured to this and accept it as a normal part of life.

The true cause of the admonishers anger was probably constant announcements and the irritating music played for far too long at each stop of his maybe hour-long journey.

It is also possible that the passengers on the train were feeling uncomfortably cold as JR still uses coolers before sunrise and after sunset on some trains on the Sobu line.

The blame for this lies with JR. I can sympathise with the passengers.

I use earplugs whenever I travel on JR. However, the noise is still irritatingly loud even with earplugs.

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herefornow - Ain't that the truth? Beelzebub - I was wondering the same thing, but the story does say there were two office workers across from the "scolder" so maybe together they were being much louder than anyone should be at 0640. Also I've been on many commutes where everyone is just begging for SOMEONE to say something to the people with bad manners. Maybe everyone was happy that he had said something, but like Gurukun said about the "snowball effect" it just got out of control. I wonder if the person who pulled the alarm was one of the initial three involved?

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Some companies give mobile phones to their employees. If the 2 men were only communicating to their supervisor or something job related. I can understand why they had to use their mobile for conducting business. I used to work for an international company, I would recieve alot of calls while I'm on the train. Important calls that I need to make choices or information that text mail cannot provide. Sometimes companies need a quick response yes or no answer and/or more complicated matters.

I use my mobile on the train for personal/business. I do not give a rats arse whom I offend or whatever. I really do not care. J-people (children, young & old) gawk, stare, look disgusted,upset,curious george, idiot chiba HS kids trying to make fun of me & etc. on the train when I'm not using my mobile. If I want to tell my friend a joke/story or let my supervisor know my current situation or opinions on a subject I really don't care.

I'm paying for my phone, I like talking on the phone in a quiet tone, sometimes I laugh (SUGOI NE) on the phone. Most of the times chatty 8 & 15 HS Boys & Girls, drunk male office workers, old totally sh!tface old men & Big mouth Oba chans are more horrendously loud than my phone conversation. If these people want to sleep or want quiet please go back to your home and snooze. Trains are noisy and it's not a great idea to sleep on a machine that moves 63MPH/70KPH that can suddenly brake or derail. I've been using trains all my life in NYC. I can't sleep because I have to stay alert from krazy people and I do (c) mean Krazy people. Japanese people are alittle bit weird to so rarely I close my eyes on the train.

I do agree some people talk to loud while on the phone but that is not me. Chiba Sobu Local has alot of idiot country people on the train, drinking beers 7AM on the train.

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I'm more worried about the people who talk to themselves on the train.

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Perhaps the true cause was being on the train to work on Monday morning at 6:40. That would annoy the hell out of me - bad manners would tip me over the edge.... I think we should be grateful that this doesn't happen much more often. The blame does not lie with JR in this particular case - that's nonsense.

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Japanese people have some of the poorest mobile phone usage manners in the world.

What?!?! Are you kidding me? I just got back from Seoul and HK and in both of those cities everyone and their mom is talking on the cell phones on trains. In the States it's even worse. You can hear everyone's cell phone ring, and they talk on it everywhere, while eating, at sporting events, etc.

Personally, I think Japanese people are the MOST polite with their phones. I don't mind the occasional person talking on their phones on a train. I think some people go overboard and act like the manner police when they see it happen.

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It is also possible that the passengers on the train were feeling uncomfortably cold as JR still uses coolers before sunrise and after sunset on some trains on the Sobu line.

Better to be using coolers than heating- it's winter, people wear coats and when you're packed into a train carriage, like it's Poland in 1940, the cooler is greatly appreciated.

Why talking on the phone on the bus/train is bad manners is a mystery to me...

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Yesterday, I witnessed an old man and a young prostitute on the train and about to go to the love hotel. They were very loud and talking dirty on the train for everyone to hear. They were next to me, I had to turn up my iphone all the way. I mean really, I was annoyed but that's apart of life. People will always annoy other people that's the J way & the rest of the world deal with it.

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What's the differnce if the two guys were talking to each other, at the same tone?

Supposedly, cell phones can interfere with pacemakers, so they are banned from use in the priority seats. That's the rationale, anyway.

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If I had to ride rush hour trains, I'd need a pair of expensive noise canceling headphones in addition to earplugs, and maybe even a gas mask to breath clean air just to maintain my sanity!

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Simply Japanese. Stubborn. Take a tiny situation in public and turn it into a massive drama event, the dudes sitting in the geezer seats, the phones, the pride, the panic button, get off the train and the train guys swarm, the cops come in a pack of five, then 70,000 people text on their phone that they will be late....than its gomen nasai time. Wait until they see each other tomorrow and the next day, week, years. Simply Japanese. Stubborn.

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I dont mind the people who speak 'quietly' into their cell phones. It's the ones who speak SO DAMN LOUD into them that pees me off.

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Japanese people follow rules when they want to follow them. When they don't want to follow certain rules, they simply ignore them and do whatever they want. In my long time living here, I've reached the conclusion that Japanese are not as rule abiding as I previously thought.

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Oh modern technology brings out the idiots poor mannered, lack of common courtesy and selfish me me me attitude, think of others around you we all pay the same price to ride (most of us that is) so why should anyone else have to bothered by others noise, cheap earphones, make up sessions, phones ringing like alarm clocks, etc etc...

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This is a total joke. Because of 2 men arguing over the use of a cell phone, 70,000 people had to pay for their stupidity. These men should be fined at least 50,000 yen and have their cell phones taken away from them for at least 6 months.

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That explains why the train was so crowded around 7:30 yesterday morning. Was horrendous.

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Regardless of cell phone manners in your home country, the RULE on trains HERE in JAPAN is no cell phone use, especially in/around the priority seats. People talking on their phones are breaking the rule. The rampant abuse of this rule is frankly an indication that Japanese people as a whole are losing the sense of group mentality, and are becoming self-ists. It's the decline of a group moral sense of responsibility. Sure, people always violated rules in Japan - but usually when nobody was looking. Now, it's become public - particularly on trains.

What people also forget is that phone use is not just an inconvenience to others, it is potentially dangerous to those (few?) with pacemakers - the reason phones should not be on at all - even for texting - in priority seats.

Blame Japanese people and blame JR. Unenforced rules are useless.

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19 mins delay is nothing... victorias train infrustructure so freakin bad. try 1 hour delays on a frequent basis.

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I think ALL 3 involved should be fined for causing the train delay. Talk about the inconvenience to all those commuters trying to get to work. All over something so mundane.

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But was it a REAL emergency that someone had to push the emergency button? Please.

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Ridiculous rules should be broken and I encourage it! Priority seating and the prohibition of cell usage in that area is understandable. Other than that, ridiculous.

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Couldn't see the forest for the trees.

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Hahahahahaha sorry but this is hilarious

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But was it a REAL emergency that someone had to push the emergency button? Please.

I think that's the real newsworthy story there.

"70,000 commuters delayed by overeaction"

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Simply Japanese. Stubborn. Take a tiny situation in public and turn it into a massive drama event

Yeah, that NEVER happens outside of Japan. Good one.

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It was indeed the Emergency Button that essentially halted everything. I am quite sure if you push it for no reason, you are nailed with a 250,000 yen fine or more....

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These men should be fined at least 50,000 yen and have their cell phones taken away from them for at least 6 months.

50,000 doesn't even come close to what this cost the Japanese economy in terms of productivity.

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Just yesterday a young guy opposite me was chatting away on his cell phone in a priority seat (where he shouldn't have been sitting in the first place, but never mind). I pointed at the sign over his head reminding passengers to turn off their phones and said "Yomehenka" (yes, I live in Kansai). He was totally embarrassed, especially since his girlfriend was sitting next to him and immediately ended the call. No need to push any emergency buttons.

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"The man who had been admonished for using his cell phone called the police and accused the other man of assault, alleging that the latter had seized him by the wrist."

OMG, don't say! by the wrist?

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I tell middle school and elementary school kids to shut up. They are much more annoying then someone talking quietly on their cell.

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The person who pressed the button should be fined. The old man complainer should avoid crowded public places if he doesn't want to hear people talking. Too many bl**dy idiots in this equation.

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Just a crap Monday, that's all. What a bunch of babies. The idiot in the priority seats does need a manner adjustment, but that shouldn't be a stranger's responsibility. I'd get pissed, too, if I saw some salary moron yapping away on a morning commute - and in the priority seats - but, pick your moments. Driving rules.

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"seized him by the wrist"

This is called assault now?

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"Two office workers were sitting in the priority seats, speaking on their cell phones": that tells you all you need to know. These people are selfish, self-centred dicks, and there are many of them.

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retaliator.

You would be surprised what constitutes an assault, etc in legal terms, lay-man terms don't apply. Not just for Japan.

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50,000 doesn't even come close to what this cost the Japanese economy in terms of productivity.

Actually, I think the economy would come out ahead in terms of productivity if they paid 50,000 yen. It would definitely cover those first 20 minutes at work.

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Guess that is why it was down. Was on Chuo-line earlier and Sobu-line was disrupted due to 'crowding". And if Sobu line goes down Tozai line is also affected.

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"seized him by the wrist"

Yes. When our town drunk once refused to leave the annual children's festival, I relatively gently guided him to the police box. The policeman warned me that the man could press charges as I had touched him. He didn't - we had an unusual understanding - but he could have.

Criticize, admonish, yell, scream all you'd like, but be very careful about physical contact.

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as with airplanes and "no electronics during take off etc", it's not the "properly working" device that's the danger, it's the device that's not working to design OR broken device that will be the danger

- sent from my iphone (sitting in the priority seat)

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LOL!

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Why is speaking on your phone in the train (or bus) bad manners? There is so much other noise and people jabbering to each other anyway..... This is a local fixation that i just don't get.

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Geez. When are they going to change that idiotic rule that you can't speak on your cell phone on the train? The only reason I've been given is that it's too loud. But that doesn't hold water, since people talk to each other much louder! And you're in a public place-- noise is just something that you have to put up with! As for the pacemaker and priority seats thing. How is it ANY different standing next to the priority seats, where you can use your phone (except talking) freely, and standing one step to the right where you have to t urn it off? It won't make any difference! The rule makes NO sense, except as a way to appease those who complained.

If those rules didn't exist, then incidents like these could have been avoided. People who don't like noise on the trains just need to be quiet and bear with it. This is a public place and eventually you will get off anyway! Go home if you want to sleep. Or go hog a bench in the park.

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The person who sounded the alarm on the station is an idiot!

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Perhaps the trains should have cell phone cars where folks incapable of "unplugging" for the duration of a commute can yak, gab and chat to their hearts' content and leave the rest to have some peace in the regular cars. Yes, people talk to each other on the trains but there is just something different about people having a face-to-face interaction compared to listening to ringtones and one-sided conversations. Not sure what it is, but there is a difference.

While folks are not supposed to be on their cells at all on the train, it is even worse that they were doing it in the priority seats. Cell phones are not even supposed to be turned on in that zone. And rest assured, there were likely other passengers who needed those seats but were being ignored by the guys on the phones. People who need the priority seats step on the train and suddenly everyone in those seats who shouldn't be there, either fall asleep or pretend they can't see any other people on the train.

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Japan is full of childish idiots and their laws support this idiotic baby crying. Touched on the wrist? This is madness. I swear Japanese men get more feminine everyday because they know they can shout off their big mouths and not get punched in it.

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The "I don't care if I use the phone on the train" attitude that is prevalent here is exactly why people get pissed off and start scolding people. Does it bother me? NO. Do I scold people? NO. But do I follow the "rules?" YES. Get over it, and turn off your friggin phones.

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Anyone who knows anything about phones, wifi, networking, etc, knows that we are constantly bombarded with radiation. This pacemaker argument is a load of rubbish, and is just another example of the Japanese appeasement of the folklore loving old idiots which fill this island.

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DarkKnightNine....yes, they might. Friend of mine went through a situation where he stepped in the middle of an altercation, trying to stop another man from beating a woman and he ended up being the one taken to the police station. But in the case of the above story, I don't think either of the men were arrested per say, just taken down to the station to get it all sorted out.

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Why are the Japanese people so paranoid about the use of mobile phones on trains? Is it because it disturbs their sleep? I find it absurd that people cant use mobile phones on trains in this country, but indulge in all kinds of other antisocial behaviour on trains, with impunity. Stories like this one show the intolerance and the childishness of people in this country.

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The anger caused by people talking on cell phones on public transport is because its a rule. No matter what, you must follow the rule and not question it. Never mind that the rule makes no sense given that people talk loud or there are other noises. Talk on the cell phone in a noisy train and you will get the evil eye or worse - assaulted.

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If merely having your wrist grabbed is qualified as assault, being assaulted may not be as bad as I initially thought.

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For those of you complaining about the rule for not using a cell phone on a train: Have you ever been to South Korea? They have no such rule. And if you think a few people talking among themselves is the equivalent, you are oh so mistaken. Try a car full of people all trying to talk over the noise of the train and fellow passengers. It is more than simply annoying. I always like telling people off when they use their damned phones. And at my size, I pity the fool that takes exception to my big mouth.

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I was surprised about how many people hardly anyone in the priority ever turned off their phones.

And most of them were business men.

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What's the use of a cell phone when you are not allowed to use it anywhere? They should just ban talking then.

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just follow the rules and there won't be any problems. Put the phone away.

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It is one thing to argue about manners on a train, it is another to hit the emergency stop button at the station which is what caused the most grief for the 70,000 commuters because it stopped not just that train but trains all up and down that line.

Pretty much. It sounds like they didn't even come to blows--how did this constitute a train-stopping emergency? I wonder if they know who pushed the button.

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I do believe the silver seats are reserved for the elderly and those with special conditions and there is a sign posted in Japanese and English - No cell phone use. Sad to see it escalated into something like this.

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Seen one incident in MItaka(Tozai Line).

Got on a train(early morning) and departure was delayed, next a few railroad police arrive and try to take a passenger off. Sounded like he had a fight with another commuter and tried to kick him(or did). Guy refused to get out of the seat(saying he didn't do it), holding onto poles, etc.

Took about 10 min for the railroad police to get him out and allow the train to depart.

Commuters were ready to chuck him out to get moving but the railroad police still tried to be nice to him.

I can see how such a delay can develop.

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Zenny11, that sounds much more reasonable than what happened here. In your case one train, or maybe several trains going in the same direction were delayed. In this case some idiot pushed the emergency stop button, which stopped all trains on the line. Letting the railroad police deal with it would have been a much better course of action.

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No one cares when a guy is watching an adult magazine in front of crowded women , young people sitting in priority seat and the seniors are standing then why they are so concerned about khetai in train.

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sarahsuz25.

Fully agree the emergency button in the train and NOT the platform should have been pushed. Article is not clear how close to the conductor/driver it happened too.

Incident I talked about disrupted both Sobu and Tozai lines, as Tozai line is extended into Sobu line.

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do you really think this was about using a mobile on the train? That was what instigated it, but it is more to do with the extremely high tension among the Japanese. I use that line regularly and have seen many similar altercations. My favorite was two salarymen chest butting each other on the stairs cos one was using the 'up' side to go down at Funabashi station. Just stay away from them. Remember, 30% of Japanese adults have been diagnosed with some sort of mental disorder and the other 70% just haven't been diagnosed. They are all nuts!

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I got on the train once and finished my call as I was getting on the train. I had hung up before the doors were closed, but not before some guy had punched me twice, once in the back and once in the back of the head. I am female, 164cms and 46kgs, and I didn't cry assault, so I'm sorry, I can't help but feel a bit disdainful towards this guy who cried "he seized me by the wrist! help! Police!"

I agree the whole cellphone thing in the train is stupid, but it is the rule for now, the guys were in the wrong to have been talking on it, and I am sick to death of watching people here do whatever they want while people stand around and say/do nothing, so I say good on the guy for pointing out their rudeness to them.

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Just because something is a rule does not mean that you should follow it. If talking on cell phones on trains is banned JUST because it will disrupt people's comfort, then I can suggest a million other things that should be banned, like people who smell like smoke or alcohol, people who fart, people who stare at me for not being asian, people who fill up the seats so that I can't sit down. All of those things annoy me and I'm sure many others. Now that I think of it, just ban everyone except from me and my friends, because they are annoying.

Or, just let me talk peaceably on my phone. Though to be honest, I prefer the other option.

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HerminoneGranger.

Not quiet the same. It is NOT banned but asked as a form of courtesy same for many things you point out.

Of course you can use your phone anywhere, but people are also free to be upset with you if it disturbs them. Your rights and freedoms vs theirs. Who wins. Lets count the bruises. ;)

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How would allowing everyone on the train to talk on their phone (most of them shouting) be a positive change in society?

There are lots of 'rules' (manner or otherwise) that the biggest majority of people follow.

Please don't link 'apartheid' with every 'rule' you disagree with. There's nothing wrong with being courteous to your fellow commuter.

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50,000 doesn't even come close to what this cost the Japanese economy in terms of productivity.

Anyone who`s spent any time at all here knows that productivity is less important than endurance power. The thousands of commuters who got to work a few minutes late that morning either worked an extra hour or otherwise compensated by raising the work tempo slightly from their usual plodding pace.

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As I have lived here for a few years now, I have practically gone native in my manners.

That is, on a train I live in my own world. No other people exist except myself. If I walk, I walk as if no-one else exists, meaning that I knock and charge as is necessary for me to escape the train.

If there is a queue, then because it is only I that exists, I can freely push in, and get on before other people have got off.

If there is a seat available, then I take it. This is regardless of whoever is around me, be it a pregnant lady or an invalid. I simply don't see them.

This is the only way to be here. Ignore everyone and everything, and you'll have a stress free journey to work, otherwise you'll go crazy with all the zombies & morons that drive other people nuts.

The person who pressed the alarm was a bit of an idiot: firstly for over-reacting. Secondly, for even caring about other people. That is not the way a commuter behaves in Tokyo.

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The man who had been admonished for using his cell phone called the police and accused the other man of assault, alleging that the latter had seized him by the wrist.

Whiner nation. I hope the police wiped his nose for him, and called his mommy to let her know little Taro was OK.

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Well, Richard III, I do not suffer fools and ensure (politely but directly) people get up when the elderly or a pregnant woman, etc is standing in front them. I have been here 16 yrs and do not give up my morals just because this is a big city and the trains are crowded. I have two boys and teach am teaching them how to be polite and caring citizens, just as perhaps your parents taught you.

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If there is a seat available, then I take it. This is regardless of whoever is around me, be it a pregnant lady or an invalid. I simply don't see them.

Then you absolutely live up to your name.

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miamum, are you suggesting that because you didn't follow some manner rule to the absolute letter, it's acceptable for some man to put his hands on you, assault you?

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Not talking on the phone on a train is common courtesy. A train full of people on the phone is noisy chaos. Japanese trains are already crowded and can be unpleasant when stuffed so we don't need a bunch of loudmouths jabbering away on the phone. Save it until you get off!

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all these passengers delayed because of 2 guys? there must be Many Japanese that have & use their cellphones. but ok i know "Bad manners" he must have been loud, but what was he saying? was he swearing in front of Kids & older people. I guess theyll have to make a special Train/cart section like the one for women only, "loud cell phone users only" LOL

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I wonder if their moms never told them that two wrongs don't make a right? Or in this case a delay for a lot of commuters.

Yes, I agree with Anotsusagami. If I were Miamum, I would have been quite upset at someone else 'laying' their hands on me regardless if it hurt or not. No one has the right to touch another person without their permission.

Of course that doesn't include incidental or unavoidable touching caused by cramming people into a tiny space.

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hahaha this was a funny story, very sitcom-ish :D me, personally, I wouldnt use the phone on the train since I dont want other people to listen in on my conversation. but thats just me

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Wow, all the parties involved are major dicks, and it's quite a coincidence that they met each other on the train.

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Great posts, everyone!

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Japanese people have some of the poorest mobile phone usage manners in the world.

Ha you've got to be kidding me, I was on an Amtrak train going to NY, some guys phone kept ringing every 2minutes, another passenger told the conductor, and then the two get into a brawl about it. On regular US trains no such rules exist, people talk loudly on the time.

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The idiot is the one who pushed the emergency button.

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miamum, are you suggesting that because you didn't follow some manner rule to the absolute letter, it's acceptable for some man to put his hands on you, assault you?

??? Of course it isn't! Why on earth would you think I was suggesting that?!

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In other countries, the 70,000 commuters would get into a brawl themselves. I agree that there's one BIG idiot. Why push the emergency button if they were quarreling in the platform?

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Somebody ought to be billed for everybody's time. I'm not sure who but that's a big problem for such a silly thing.

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The behaviour of everyone involved is pretty weird...... but then I guess you must be weird to live in a place like Tokyo...

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People using their phones on the train without any urgency in finishing their call bug me but people who sit in the priority section and use their phones are just plain rude and inconsiderate. Having been Monday morning and having 2 people talking on the phone in the priority section would have irritated me too since. The man who got upset could have had a pacemaker for all we know. There is a reason people shouldn't use their phones in the priority section. Personally I think a large percent of Japanese male businessmen on the trains don't even care that they are in a priority seat. When I was pregnant, they would pretend to sleep or be totally engrossed in their book that they wouldn't let me sit down. It's sad to think that so many people could be so inconsiderate. I got so frustrated waiting for someone to give up their seat that around month 9 I just started waking young men up and telling them I wanted to sit down. then they would apologize pretending that they hadn't noticed. They can choose other seats to sit in. Those seats are priority for a reason. People shouldn't have to ask that they be used appropriately. I say hats off to the guy who complained as he was only asking that the other 2 respect the priority area.

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With all the horrible squealing noises a train makes... people actually give a shit about other people talking on the phone. It isn't even a no-talking-train, it is a no one-sided conversation train. I can never get over how stupid this is. People just like to cause trouble, and they love when there is a "rule" like no phone calls on the train because it gives them an excuse to cause trouble. If you don't like noise, and you actually are genuine about it, why in the HELL would you give people the power to subject you to it? The only real solution for someone honestly interested in noise blocking is ear plugs or ear plugging headphones, both of which are incredibly portable.

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I think this story is more about how anyone can switch a button and turn all the trains off..

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The culprit is the moron who decided to push the emergency button on the platform. It's not a "fight alarm." Just knock on the damn window in the front of the train and tell the conductor.

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I can completely imagine this situation as I too have stirred up some uncontrollable anger on the train even by texting near the priority seats.

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Ludicrous. If this had been two rancid old beldames screeching and so-desu-neing at each other that would have been entirely acceptable. Some buffoon hits the emergency button because someone else is on the phone and 70 thousand people are delayed - because two blokes were not showing consideration to other passengers? What a farce.

Don't come the pacemaker line - that's demonstrably false.

And don't justify it on grounds of courtesy to other passengers until the benches for seven people are not taken up by five or six spread out and pretending not to notice that other people want to sit down. Every single bloody day. When elderly people or pregnant women are offered a seat routinely, then we can talk about courtesy.

When it's not the filthy gaijin who's the first person to offer rudimentary courtesy to a fellow passenger in need, we can discuss courtesy.

When they will keep their fingers out of their effing noses in public, we can discuss courtesy.

When they don't need special seats marked out for good manners - and in which even then they refuse to show courtesy - we can talk about courtesy.

This phone usage bolleaux is a canard, leapt on by borderline OCD arseholes as a woeful offence, when there are truly grotesque acts of babyish bad manners going on all around.

Whoever pushed the button (and let's face it - it was one of our revered elders) should have his poster in every station, with the legend beneath "If you see this person, tell him he is an arse"

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I have two boys and teach am teaching them how to be polite and caring citizens, just as perhaps your parents taught you.

Yes, I was taught manners. But in the trains in Tokyo, manners are not necessary, that's why you have to live within yourself.

Of course, occasionnally I do like to show the locals manners by offering my seat, or showing some decent courtesy. But the longer I live here, the less I do this. Why? because no one shows any manners or courtesy to anyone else. It's a spiral of decline.

As IvanCoughalot noted, the fixation with phones is a really corny obsession given that the lack of general manners elsewhere are simply appalling.

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Remember, 30% of Japanese adults have been diagnosed with some sort of mental disorder and the other 70% just haven't been diagnosed. They are all nuts!

Thank you doctor. It's all crystal clear now.

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@miamum, Sorry I just wanted to be clear. It seemed like you were disparaging this man for objecting to being (what is both legally and literally) assaulted. It also seemed like you were suggesting that because this is a courtesy guideline, violators are subject to being assaulted by the offended and if you don't like it, tough cookies. If I was mistaken I apologize. I DO see however that a few posters on here do in fact feel that way and I will counter with mind your own business. Korea is NOT an acceptable example of the chaos that will reign if people were allowed to speak on their cell phones on the trains. I can cite The UK, America and Canada as places where you can talk on your cell on a train, and there isn't some impenetrable din of noise as a result. I rarely heard people yelling on trains, and when they were, it wasn't on a cell phone.

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It isn't even a no-talking-train, it is a no one-sided conversation train.

I wonder what would happen if 2 people standing next to each other had a converstaion over the phone that everyone could hear? (Same volume as talking regularly and not near a priority seat)

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"I can cite The UK, America and Canada as places where you can talk on your cell on a train, and there isn't some impenetrable din of noise as a result."

I cite those places where there IS a din of noise because of selfish use of cell phones or ipods with their cheap selfish headphones...or just selfish loud behaviour in general. I find Japanese transport much more pleasant and are happy that some people do get angry about others poor behaviour other wise its a slippery slope. I'm glad in that respect they are not too influenced by those types of foreign views that support selfish behaviour just because its ok for them.

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totally agree with justmy2cents.

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what is the difference between someone talking on their cellphone and another person talking to another passenger? in the case of the cellphone, you hear only half as many voices. people talking to their friends on the train is doubly/triply more annoying than people on their phones.

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Here here, IvanCoughalot!!! Here here!!!

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haha...many trains and people stuck because of that. just take the man that using the bloody cellphone to many people that waiting the train so long and ask everyone to scold that man and kick his ass badly! its because he don't have a manner and self-respect to others.

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I don't get it. Priority Seats = no cell phone use. Two men using cell phone in priority seats. Argument which resulted in delays affecting thousands. No arrest. Why have signs regarding priority seats? Police call but no result by any standard. This is just stupid. I blame the JR and the police. All the people should get fare refunds.

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No arrest.

It's not illegal to use a mobile phone in a priority seat, just against JR rules. The police don't have any power to do anything. Assault, however, is a different matter....

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The REAL Story: What happened to the button guy?

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I’d like to clarify the events that are depicted here because they are inaccurate and also because I was involved in the incident. The first thing to make very clear was that there was never any argument or discussion about the use of cell phones or Priority Seats. What happened was a case of assault. To best understand how this is so, I will put the events in timeline format. 0625 – I got on the JR Sobu local train leaving from Tsudanuma to Mitaka to go to an early work assignment in Tokyo. I sat in car nine, at the front of the car, in the Priority Seat. There were only a few open seats between other passengers in the regular seats, and I decided to sit in the Priority Seat to not disturb other passengers. I got out my iPhone and earplugs and connected them, and started iPod to watch a video file. 0627 – Train arrived at Higashi-Funabashi. A Japanese man, 63-years-old, wearing a grey suit and blue striped tie boarded the train and directly started yelling very loudly in Japanese at me. He said something about cardiac pacemakers, the Priority Seat, and cell phones while pointing at the sign to my left and tapping it. I ignored him and he sat down across from me in the Priority Seats on the other side and closed his eyes. At that time, I thought that he was just an unhappy man and would soon go to sleep. 0628 – The man opened his eyes, stood up, and came over to me and began yelling “No Phones” again. He was at a normal distance from my knees. 0629 – The man started yelling even louder and pointing and shaking his finger in my face. He was so agitated that when he yelled, spit flew out of his mouth and hit me in the face. His distance closed to the point where his knees hit mine. 0630 – Train arrived at Funabashi. The man continued to yell even louder and point and shake his finger very close to my face (within 10cm of my nose) with a clenched fist below it. I raised my left arm above my face to protect myself, and the man began to hit my arm and wrist with his hand while violently shaking his finger in my face. I called out in Japanese yelling “I’m afraid, please help” several times, but none of the other passengers came to my aid. 0634 – Train arrived in Nishi-Funabashi. The man attempted to grab my iPhone, and we struggled. Once I regained control of my iPhone, I dialed 110 and tried to tell the police what was happening. The man continued yelling and hitting my arm as he shook his finger and hand in my face. 0636 – Train arrived in Shimosa-Nakayama. The man started to grab and yank the shoulder strap of my bag (which was slung across my chest) in an attempt to pull me out of the seat. He began yelling very loudly “Out of the seat” over and over. After the man failed to pull me out of the seat, he switched back to yelling and hitting my arm as he shook his finger and hand in my face. The police called back again, and I successfully told them that I was actually in the train. 0639 – Train arrived in Moto-Yawata. The man began to yank my left arm (which I had been using to protect my face) very strongly in an attempt to pull me out of the seat, while still yelling “Out of the seat” over and over. After the third or fourth attempt to pull me out of the seat by yanking my arm very strongly, the man gave up that approach and returned to pointing and shaking his finger violently in my face, while hitting my arm (which I again raised to protect my face) and screaming in nearly unintelligible Japanese. 0642 – Train arrived in Ichikawa. The man continued to point and shake his finger in my face, hitting my arm while screaming. As soon as the train stopped, a JR employee came to my aid and pushed the man away from me. Another JR employee told me to wait on the platform. The man sat down and the JR employees started to argue with him. A struggle broke out when the man refused to get off the train. The police arrived and began to struggle to get the man off the train. Finally, they were able to get the man off the train. I noticed that the JR employees’ neckties had come off, and one police officer’s body armor had come off in the struggle. The time when the struggle ended was about five minutes later. After the struggle, I went with the JR employees and police into the station office, and later the Ichikawa Ekimae Koban. The police conducted a normal and professional investigation of the facts. The police told me that the man admitted to having done the same thing before as well. After some time with the police, the man said that he wanted to apologize to me, and I allowed it on the condition that he admit to what he had done and write out and sign a document promising to pay for medical costs and damages. He agreed to this, and wrote out and signed the document, which I accepted. I went straight to an orthopedic doctor to be seen for my injuries. They were “left arm and forearm muscle bruising” requiring an estimated three weeks to heal. As I was in shock, I also was seen by a psychiatric doctor and the diagnosis was “low-level trauma resulting from a violent incident.” I was given medication for both conditions and released. After seeking legal advice on Wednesday, I went to the Ichikawa Ekimae Koban and filed charges for damages to my person on Thursday. I firmly believe that I am the victim of a simple assault, and that the portrayal of the incident in the media is flawed. I also believe that the cause of the train delays was the man and not myself. Regarding the Priority Seat issue, I do recognize that JR East does have a sticker asking passengers to turn off their phones in the Priority Seat area. I sat in that area and had a phone, and of that I am guilty of bad manners. I am sincerely sorry about this point. However, I do not believe that my bad manners in any way gave the man any right to become a type of “manner enforcer” and attack me. Once he used physical force, he lost any possible argument. I am a permanent resident here in Japan, and what happened on Tuesday seemed to be a pre-retirement baby boomer totally flipping out and going psychotic on a random stranger. I think that this is a symptom of their generation, who are unhappy generally with the way that the end of their working years is not fitting with the image that they had of how the world would be.

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@soreleftarm: thank you for sharing with us what truly happened and I'm sorry you had to go through that. I'm even sorrier that there are those who post here that think you somehow deserved being attacked by what is nothing more than a bully. Call it Nihonjinron all you want, but the fact remains that because no one helped this man who was being assaulted by a man who by all rights was disturbing passengers more than the supposed violator (and thus showing no manners himself) is tantamount to tacit approval. The old man was probably emboldened by the fact that no one was calling him on his own bad behavior, probably thinking that everyone agreed with him, only making it worse. I hate it when people take it upon themselves to be some random person's parent. They need to be swiftly put in their place.

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@soreleftarm

The guy sounds like a complete nutball! Your were in the wrong by sitting there and using the phone (I think it's a load of crap "rule" however), but he went totally over the top and is obviously a very dangerous person if he gets so violent over something so trivial.

I hope you are going to sue him.

Who was the idiot who pushed the button though?

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soreleftarm - I salute you for your self control. Under that kind of provocation, I imagine most male passengers (although I guess you're female - bullies of this ilk seldom try anything on if they're of an inkling there might be a two-way fracas) would have twatted the deranged old twonk until he regained his grip on reality.

But isn't this typical of the doublethink? Shrieking, spitting and assault of somebody who's minding their own business is viewed as an appropriate response to a perceived infringement of manners.

I hope you shaft the old get for every yen of his pension.

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Not every man reacts by punching whenever someone is pissed.

Just like how not every woman will take a threat from a man just running away.

However, it was still a bad thing to sit on the priority seat with your phone.

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yes, my first reaction would be to "want to punch him" but that would get me deported, however i can think of many other options such as putting up my phone, or moving out of priority. i dont think shielding my face and crying "help, i am afraid" or calling police would even be considered. and going to the doctor because ojiisan punched your arm is really dooshy. sounds like this guy is going to try to swindle the old guy out of 3 weeks wages...dooshy....very dooshy

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soreleftarm you would have been totally justified to shove your foot into this man's chest to push him away and splatter him on the other side while yelling "don't touch me again!". I'm sure the rest of the passengers would not have blamed you. Putting a bully in his place is sometimes what is needed. Unfortunately your "Kowai, Tetsudatte!" response encouraged him to continue. When an animal knows you are afraid of it, it just emboldens them. Next time reverse the situation and get out of dodge quickly.

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Or at the first encounter, soreleftarm could have just smiled and pointed out that s/he wasn't using a phone but watching an ipod. Could even have moved away from the priority seats, which s/he acknowledges s/he shouldn't have been in. Plenty of time to start an altercation then if the guy still didn't shut up. First ignoring him then shouting 'help me I'm afraid' was probably the worst thing s/he could do, apart from landing the first punch.

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sounds like this guy is going to try to swindle the old guy out of 3 weeks wages

I would, too. People like that should learn that they can't do whatever they want to people just because they get a little annoyed. The guy needs to get a handle on his anger issues, and the more consequences he has to suffer for his bad behavior, the better.

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soreleftarm did exactly the right thing. Doesn't matter male or female, but being passive in this situation was the right thing to do. Of course, the natural reaction is to punch or to use some kind of physical restraint. That would have been the wrong thing to do.

Punching or 'physically assaulting' the man would have been seen as a serious escalation by the police - not something you'd get deported for, but would entail some other penalty.

I too was involved in a similar situation in a station. I punched the guy's chest and sent him reeling, luckily for me that was the end of it. I told the story to some colleagues (non-Japanese) and they said I was right in punching him in order to defend myself (he grabbed my suit and ripped it). Also told the story to Japanese friends - completely opposite reaction. I was so wrong, lucky not to have been arrested. An eye-opener for me - just goes to underline the fact that we are culturally different in the way we deal with things.

Soreleftarm - thank you for giving us your version of events and giving us the real story behind the headlines. Good luck in the future and don't let this happening put you off Japan.

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BTW - nothing wrong in sitting on a 'priority seat' as long as you give the seat up to someone who really requires it. And nothing wrong in using an iPhone/pod - as long as it's in 'airline mode' and that you are only using the media-player function.

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Main point is that an iPod is NOT a telephone and the old geezer was out of line. Any gaijin "kicking the guy in the chest across the aisle" risks serious legal problems, so don't take that advise. WHO PUSHED THE EMERGENCY BUTTON. Finally, I wish soreleftarm would discover the big Enter button on long posts. What a nightmare.

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Hmmm. I think cleo is partly right. If some older guy had done that to me, I would have showed him my i-phone screen and then if he continued yelling at me, I would have either moved or gotten off the train. Why sit passively and allow this man's anger to escalate?

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So it wasn't two guys arguing over the use of a cellphone. Why don't the "journalists" on this website get the facts correct before running the story? Journalists indeed...bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

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The whole thing stinks. The Oyaji - definitely a creep who probably wouldnt have uttered a peep if soreleftarm was Japanese. Soreleftarm - Im assuming you are male (sore left arm; yes, I get it)so why the need to sit in a priority seat at all? Just plain lazy and quite frankly - asking for trouble.

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I do not mind if one decides to flout any established rules, I do so at times, as well. However, I am aware that my actions may result in reprimands or even verbal and sometimes unprovoked physical confrontation. I am aware of the consequences of my actions. One thing I would not do however, is live in a city or country that I despise, that would result in increasing neurotic behavior, and might result in going off on someone on a train, or, saying "Eff your rules, I'm using my iPhone wherever the h*ll I want!"

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Muddymud: please read more carefully. "Soreleftarm" was using an iPOD not an iPHONE. No rules broken.

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Hrm.

Why did all the media report a different story from what he heard here. Story given here don't account for all the delays(still felt in the afternoon) on the lines, etc.

And agree with Cleo, if things happened as told here the confrontation could have been ended way sooner and with less impact to everybody.

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please read more carefully. "Soreleftarm" was using an iPOD not an iPHONE. No rules broken.

I got out my iPhone and earplugs and connected them, and started iPod to watch a video file

But the iphone wasn't being used as a phone. soreleftarm could have said so. Clash of two jerks.

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cleo; It is easy to say in the comfort of you house, but for some being in a foreign country and having an aggressive man threatening them, pointing out the iphone/ipod issue may not have come to mind.

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Two office workers were sitting in the priority seats, speaking on their cell phones when another man sitting opposite them scolded them for their bad manners.

2 guys on the phone opposite to the guy.

The two men continued to argue on the platform.

No mention of JR guys and police forcibly taking a guy out of the train and I doubt they would let the confrontation continue on the platform.

Something here don't add up between the article and what soreleftarm is telling us, unless the reporters made it all up from "hearsay".

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Stececpfc

Would you consider a person "being on the phone" while looking at a screen and NOT talking into it?

I wouldn't as would most other people. Like I said things don"t add up.

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zenny11; no i would not, but there are a lot of nutcases about. Maybe we can learn more about this from somewhere.

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There seems to be lots of inconsistencies with the story posted here. I am taking this with a grain of salt. From personal experience, if one of the parties had been a non-Japanese, I am almost certain that it would have been published especially if so many people were bothered by it.

But maybe I am just paranoid...

Who knows really?

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Obey the rule. What rule? It's not a rule. Haven't we had this discussion already? It's a suggestion in the same way that not sitting in the priority seats if someone who's pregnant, injured or elderly is standing in front of you while you are young, healthy and fit. All the posters asking you to do this and that are also suggestions. Can JR remove you for talking on a cell phone while riding a train? No! It's not a damn rule. Just practice some common sense - everyone. If you're on the train try to be considerate of the people around you and if you're really bothered by something ask yourself if your irritation is reasonable or if there is something you can do to make yourself feel better, such as wearing earplugs, moving to another car, riding your bicycle to work, etc. Speaking to people does not fall under the category of unreasonable behavior even if it is on a cell phone. Admonishing people for doing something that is neither illegal nor a big issue, if you're honest about it, is unreasonable. Grabbing someone by the wrist when they won't do what you want is most certainly unreasonable. People are allowed to speak and it's no ones business but their's to decide whether or not the topic is relevant. I'm so utterly sick and tired of people making a big deal about talking on cell phones while on trains and completely ignoring so much of the other really rude and at times downright dangerous behavior that goes on, such as all the pushing and shoving and general inattentiveness while boarding and unboarding. Stop being so bloody hypocritical, hyper-sensitive and looking for opportunities to act self-righteous while really just being obnoxious, illogical bullies! And pacemakers, seriously? There are old people everywhere in Japan, potential pacemaker wearers everywhere in Japan and cell phones everywhere in Japan. Why in the world would people think the use of cell phones needs to be restricted on trains and not everywhere else potential pacemakers reside? Again, unreasonable, illogical and hypocritical.

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ambrosia.

Feeling better now? BTW, no-one agreed and you don"t make the rules/guideline for everyone.

How about commenting on what is written in the article the poster that said it happened in a different way to the story.

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ambrosia: Is it is a rule? Yes, but then a rule is basically just a suggested way of behaving. So no point in arguing over semantics.

Can you imagine if everyone was talking on their cellphone on the train? The rules/train etiquette or whatever you want to call it, are there so that people are aware of how their behavior might be having a negative effect on someone else. Many of these things are common sense but some people need a bit of a reminder.

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Dolphingirl: Sorry but it's not just a matter of semantics. Words matter because they have meanings. If I were to imagine the somewhat improbable situation where everyone was talking on their cell phone, I'd have to imagine a situation where no one was bothered by anyone else talking on their cell phone because they were too busy talking on theirs to notice. And yes, everyone's behavior affects everyone else which is why I've never suggested anything but sensible behavior. If you're talking whether on your cell phone or with the person next to you do so at a reasonable volume. If you're so sensitive that you can't ride public transportation without being bothered by the noise get earplugs, immerse yourself in a book and try minding your own business or ride a bicycle. That's common sense.

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Zenny11: "No one agreed." What does that even mean?

"You don't make the rules" Did I say I did? Considering posting on what I actually said before you try giving others advice.
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Ambrosia.

You keep repeatedly posting/ranting on what YOUR definition of terms and acceptable behaviour. And than tell us that WE agreed with you, etc.

The above outburst is a perfect example that you won"t accept any view other than your own.

Over and out.

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Zenny11; I actually had this incident happen to me a while ago. I boarded a train at Koba in the evening and i was watching a UMD movie on my PSP with earphones in. A drunk salaryman tried to wrestle it out of my hand and shouted something about no phones allowed or such like. In the end the bloke legged it into another carriage as i was rather annoyed with him. People do act badly, but it does seem a little starnge to shout i'm afraid or similar unless you are a child or disabled (mentally or physically).

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Drunk people do strange stuff. ;)

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Ranger_Miffy at 09:34 PM JST - 11th December

Muddymud: please read more carefully. "Soreleftarm" was using an iPOD not an iPHONE. No rules broken.

actually even soreleftarm's strange version states he was using an "Iphone" not an Ipod. but whichever it was, ojiisan should have stuckthe device up the rude dude's keister. but really the alternate version presented by a poster just does not ring true. i know newspapers don't always get the facts right, but with so many witnesses to this situation, i don't think they would be so wildly off the mark on so many points. as for the big question "who is the idiot that pushed the button" i am guessing if soreleft arm cried "help, help, i'm afraid!" and called police, he probably also is the guilty party that pushed the button, out of sheer terror for his very life in the face of ojiisan's wrath. thus landing 70,000 commuters in limbo....both parties behaved strangely and could benefit from a psych evaluation.

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No-one speaks on cell-phones anynore - that's so old school! Use email next time dudes - problem solved!

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"whichever it was, ojiisan should have stuckthe device up the rude dude's keister." Why are so many of you still advocating assault as a valid punishment for using you cell phone on a train? Again, many countries have no such manner rule about cell phones, and there isn't chaos as a result. Old guy can't control himself from assaulting another man, causes a fight that delays 70000 and he's a hero?! BTW for those of you who don't seem to understand, grabbing another man's arm as the article states, is STILL assault. So it doesn't really matter if you don't believe soreleftarm.

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Ambrosia: I agree with you 100%. It's not a rule, it's a guideline. Guidelines that make no sense should not be followed, period. There is no reason at all for this guideline to exist other than to appease the complainers!

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Sorry, "soreleftarm", but I gotta call your bluff on this one. Japanese news articles make no mention of a foreigner being involved and, let's face it, they would have had it been the case. This is Japan we're talking about, after all.

Secondly, were you as traumatized by the event as you claim to be, I imagine it wouldn't have occurred to you to sign up to JT with a witty handle specifically for this purpose.

Finally, if you were being attacked by an enraged Japanese man, how is it that you kept an almost perfectly detailed timeline of the events, down to the exact minute?

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Also, for my two cents, let me point out that in almost all civilized nations, the etiquette is to not speak on your cellphone in enclosed public spaces. This goes for the US, England, Canada and everywhere else I've traveled.

I believe it has to do with the fact that a) people tend to talk more loudly on cellphones than they do to a person standing directly in front of them, and b) the human brain becomes distracted by human voices in general, and even more so when you can only hear one side of the conversation. Even if you aren't eavesdropping, it sounds unnatural and can distract you from what you are trying to concentrate on.

Considering that most people in Tokyo have long commutes to work, it makes sense that a quiet atmosphere that enables reading/texting/tetris-ing/etc. is preferred. The same way that loud conversation, open window shades, walking up and down aisles is frowned upon in airplanes.

This makes perfect sense. I guarantee every single one of you posting here have been annoyed at one point or another on the train by a crying baby/fighting couple/loud cellphone talker/what-have-you. Don't be such hypocrites.

Also, hitting the emergency stop to prevent a fight from escalating is perfectly reasonable. A 29 minute delay is far from the worst to happen even in THIS WEEK, and one of the parties in question could have easily possessed a knife. And for those of you who have never been in a fight, a single punch to the face is easily capable of killing or causing brain damage. The pedestrian that hit the alarm unquestionably did the right thing.

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Agree with HumanTarget.

I was on the train a few days ago, fairly empty train(lots of empty seats) and I could hear the music from a guys headphone from the OTHER end of the carriage. Similar experiences for rush hour.

I am with HumanTarget all the guys and gals up in the air that say it is not a problem are most likely trolling or never been on a Tokyo train, etc.

Let me tell you it takes quiet a bit for a commuter here to hit the emergency button, etc. So I think the situation was dire.

As for the possibility of a knife-fight. The Kick-Ass Movie nailed it spot-on when he tried to stop the car-thieves. He got knifed out of the blue and never knew that the other guy had one.

That is real life. There is no flashing of the knife, etc. First you know about is after you got stabbed or sliced.

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Sorry, "soreleftarm", but I gotta call your bluff on this one. Japanese news articles make no mention of a foreigner being involved and, let's face it, they would have had it been the case. This is Japan we're talking about, after all.

The media has no reason to make a biased coverage. The article seems to recognize that he is the victim of this particular incident, so whether "soreleftarm" is a foreign national or not is not that relevant to the story. The people here are not that biased as some people might make it out to be.

Secondly, were you as traumatized by the event as you claim to be, I imagine it wouldn't have occurred to you to sign up to JT with a witty handle specifically for this purpose.

I think he just wanted to share his experience with the foreign residents in Japan.

Finally, if you were being attacked by an enraged Japanese man, how is it that you kept an almost perfectly detailed timeline of the events, down to the exact minute?

When a person is involved in some sort of a crime, the police will usually ask you to write a deposition of the event in a timeline. He probably just pasted what he wrote in his original statement.

I pretty much agree about your next comments on public nuisance tho.

Zenny - The Kick-Ass movie seems really good watching the trailer. I will definitely want to go see :)

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Soreleftarm here.

Thanks for all your support and comments.

I just want to let you all know how things worked out after this story became old news.

I was interviewed by a police detective and the case was sent to the Chiba Prosecutor's Office, where it was tried as a violation of Penal Code Sec. 208 (Assault) and the assailant was given a 200,000 yen fine.

I filed for civil damages, and the case went to arbitration. In arbitration, I agreed to settle on 320,000 yen in compensation.

This may not seem like a lot for some of us, but it is pretty much the standard for Japan.

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