The Yamanote line in Tokyo Photo: Pakutaso
national

Tokyo’s anti-crowding coronavirus countermeasures backfire on trains

71 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

Along with a handful of other prefectures in Japan, Tokyo’s government on April 29 declared a state of emergency, prompted by a resurgent spike in coronavirus infections. The declaration involved asking citizens and businesses to comply with a number of protocols meant to combat the spread of the disease by preventing people from spending extended periods of time gathered in public places, such as shops and restaurants.

This also included anti-crowding measures for public transportation providers to follow, and on Thursday morning the result of those anti-crowding policies looked like this.

Screen-Shot-2021-05-.png

Clearly, something went wrong with the government’s plan, as the dense mass of humanity on the platform of downtown Tokyo’s Ikebukuro Station shows. So what happened?

Starting on May 3, the Tokyo metropolitan government and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism requested that rail operators reduce their number of trains during the morning and evening rush hours for one week. The logic was that Japan was in its Golden Week spring vacation period, and since fewer people were going to work, there was a reduced need for trains, especially with the government requesting that Tokyoites limit their non-essential outings. However, there’s a big problem with this, which is that the name Golden Week is sort of inaccurate.

Golden Week actually consists of only four holidays: Showa Day (April 29), Constitution Memorial Day (May 3), Greenery Day (May 4), and Children’s Day (May 5). You’ll notice that only three of those are consecutive, and this year Showa Day fell on a Thursday, while the other three took up Monday-Wednesday of the following week. So while a few particularly generous workplaces may have shut down for the entire week of May 3-7, and some workers may have opted to use their personal vacation days in order to have a solid week off from work, for most people it was back to work on Thursday.

But on the morning of May 6, passengers for the Yamanote Line, the busiest commuter line in Japan, as well as six other critical worker pathways into downtown Tokyo were dealing with a roughly 20-percent reduction in the number of trains being operated by East Japan Railway Company, which was complying with the government requests for reduced capacity during the week. However, the number of passengers was still at 95 percent or above of what it is on a typical weekday, resulting in extremely crowded conditions, with trains in extreme cases running at more than 180 percent of capacity (100-percent capacity being defined as every passenger having either a seat to sit in or a strap of their own to hold on to if standing).

Screen-Shot-2021-05-.png

In response, JR East decided to return to its regularly scheduled number of trains on Friday.

Sources: NHK, Yahoo! Japan News/Kyodo, Jin

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- These are the 11 most crowded trains in Japan…and surprise! They’re all in the Tokyo area

-- Government plan has everyone talking about a 17-day-long New Year holiday

-- Here’s what happens when the trains shut down in Tokyo during rush hour: Craziness 【Photos】

© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

71 Comments
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Just total and utter gross incompetence from the J-gov and Tokyo metropolitan govt. They have absolutely no idea what they are doing, and they seriously want people to believe they can organize a safe and secure Olympics. They literally have just created a super spreader event.

62 ( +64 / -2 )

How can it be that a lot of posters on JT are able to see this coming from miles away, yet the people who are supposed to run this country, aren't? Mind boggling.

61 ( +62 / -1 )

Put MORE trains on, you nincompoops!!!

36 ( +37 / -1 )

is there needed any more proof to show that "politicians in charge" are completely out of touch with reality and uncompentent?

47 ( +47 / -0 )

It would be funny if it wasn't such as serious public health crisis.

37 ( +38 / -1 )

This demonstrates how little policy makers and their cheerleaders in the media understand the reality of people's lives.

38 ( +38 / -0 )

Another soup Sandwich.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

This is why, folks, the are no conspiracies. They just aren't very smart.

33 ( +33 / -0 )

Oh please, show me a picture from anytime during rush hour over the past year! Nothing has changed!

22 ( +22 / -0 )

The fact that it's called Golden Week when it's only three days always makes me laugh. Always gotta oversell everything. Golden Week, State of Emergency, Strong measure, all buzzwords that fall short of what they promise.

27 ( +27 / -0 )

If I were a Japanese voter, I would be so embarrassed that this assortment of idiots has been elected to manage, represent and guide my country.

Led by Suga, who looks like a geriatric, confused old man.

40 ( +40 / -0 )

When politicians have never been travelling in anything other than a chauffeured limousine, airplane or train; have never used a computer in their life, and have never gone shopping; this is what you get!

33 ( +33 / -0 )

Clearly, something went wrong with the government’s plan, as the dense mass of humanity on the platform of downtown Tokyo’s Ikebukuro Station shows. So what happened?

Oh my god who could have seen this coming?

It is almost like there are people elected by a 'democratc" process and very well rewarded whose job it is to plan for eventualities and ameliorate the impàct on the public of adverse events.

Were they occupied dealing with another huge crisis?

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Stewart, I'm not even a Japanese voter (long-time resident) and I'm embarrassed.

18 ( +18 / -0 )

And they force to close some small izakaya instead of those 180% filled daily super spreading ‘events’? Go to a doctor, quickly please. lol

15 ( +15 / -0 )

In short the government assumes something, and acts on those assumptions without bothering to corroborate if they have any relationship with reality. Next thing you know they will organize an international event with thousands of participants in a city with growing COVID cases because they assume that nothing could go wrong.

23 ( +26 / -3 )

This is what happens when you have dynastic nobility run the country, where they get elected based on their last name and heritage only without competition due to fierce loyalty from their subjects to their family. Not gonna get better as the voters continue to view their local political families as the only legitimate rulers.

21 ( +21 / -0 )

If only Suga-San and his minions had to public transit commute, rather than getting chauffeured around on the taxpayers ¥10, would there be actual change for the general populous.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

Aside from the gross overcrowding, you know what's scary about that second picture? That everyone is dressed almost the same. Yikes.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

And what is it with these countless empty “out of service” trains that are always on their peaceful way down the tracks?!

Why can’t people ride them to help with congestion?

10 ( +10 / -0 )

This story is just shows extraordinary incompetence that even Monty Python could not invent. What I don't understand is how the world press does not pick it up. I guess their is an embargo on negative Japanese stories related to COVID because of a certain coming event

18 ( +18 / -0 )

Its kind of shocking how obviously stupid that decision should have been to everyone involved in making it, yet they still went ahead and made it.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

Yeah, this is big brain time

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I thought Japanese were good at math, i guess not. Total incompetence!

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Clowns

13 ( +13 / -0 )

I feel like I am watching a three Stooges movie and the stooges are somehow running the government!

I mean seriously if someone presented a movie script based on how the Jgov had done things, the studio would toss them out calling the script unbelievable!

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Lorem ipsumToday  01:35 pm JST

How can it be that a lot of posters on JT are able to see this coming from miles away, yet the people who are supposed to run this country, aren't? Mind boggling.

The difference is we actually think and dare to challenge the norm. If it will disturb the Wa but will serve a better good, then so be it, right? The government will have no one to blame but themselves if cases spike in the next few days. The people can only stay disciplined and put up with restrictions for so long.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

One can only hope the absolute incompetence of this governement will push japanese people to finally vote for somebody else than these jiminto ultra-nationalist cretins in the next elections.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

The difference is we actually think and dare to challenge the norm. If it will disturb the Wa but will serve a better good, then so be it, right? The government will have no one to blame but themselves if cases spike in the next few days. The people can only stay disciplined and put up with restrictions for so long.

Yeah I see your point. Except, the govt is unlikely to take any blame because of their sheer arrogance. I bet that come Monday, they will all be like "well gee, we just don't get it. We reduced the trains during GW and asked, no urged the people to restrict their movements. But they didn't listen to us. They're clearly not cooperating. We will need to have another press conference announcing meetings to think about thinking about raising more awareness and more urging"

9 ( +9 / -0 )

wanderlustToday  01:54 pm JST

When politicians have never been travelling in anything other than a chauffeured limousine, airplane or train; have never used a computer in their life, and have never gone shopping; this is what you get!

Not only that but they get the traffic lights kept green for them while the rest of us get held up and made late for these morons. They really have no idea.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Another thing I predicted correctly and was mocked for. Very obvious really, more trains are needed and stagger working hours.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

If it's for less crowding then they should have fielded more trains/trips, not less.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

How can it be that a lot of posters on JT are able to see this coming from miles away, yet the people who are supposed to run this country, aren't?

because they live in a different world of limos with drivers and food prepared for them professionally. They've probably never had to ride a crowded train, etc They can't empathize with the population due to their divorce of society and reality.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

They don't actually represent anything other than their family name. And amazingly they continue to be voted in by less than 30% of eligible voters! Dumb I'd what dumb does I guess.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

About as smart as shutting down air dryers in bathrooms to combat the coronavirus...

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

About as smart as shutting down air dryers in bathrooms to combat the coronavirus...

Every country did that and at least that has actually science behind it.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

If people were advised not to travel... why are the trains so busy? Why aren't people complying and staying at home?

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Imagine that! Running LESS trains, with the same amount of people traveling would cause an increase in each trains capacity! Whoever made this decision is a clown.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Calm down!

The death rate is low in Japan, only around 50 per day, it's like 800 a day in the US.

I bet money it never gets to high either.

-16 ( +2 / -18 )

Of course we all saw this coming.

I’m guessing the meetings went like this:

One person: Here is an idea! (Bad idea)

Everyone: OK! Yes!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

If people were advised not to travel... why are the trains so busy? Why aren't people complying and staying at home?

They are going to/from work, hence the suits.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

@Thunderbird, because they were advised to and not ordered to.

As others have said, this state of emergency is meaningless unless it has some bite and consequences behind it.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Stewart GaleToday  01:48 pm JST

If I were a Japanese voter, I would be so embarrassed that this assortment of idiots has been elected to manage, represent and guide my country. 

Led by Suga, who looks like a geriatric, confused old man.

An extra dimension to the problem is that the opposition parties have been virtually invisible the whole time.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

@Thunderbird2

It’s Japan not good old Blighty.if you don’t work you’ll be sacked. For me, I’m self employed which requires traveling almost daily,if I don’t go out I cannot make a living.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

How can it be that a lot of posters on JT are able to see this coming from miles away, yet the people who are supposed to run this country, aren't?

Decision makers have personal drivers, planes, train cars, chefs and tutors!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

This virus is really destroying the image Japan has as a competent, modern nation. This reduction in trains is sheer idiocy. Then again, everything the Japanese government has done, except the 100,000 yen each payment, has been ill thought through and dangerous.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Called it! You have to be brain dead not to foresee this!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Without having firm restrictions, this half-witted approach to reducing service, operating hours or areas you can access (like in yoyogi) only has negative impact as it doesn’t reduce the foot traffic, merely condenses it.

less operating hours doesn’t mean less customers... if they want to go, they will all go at the same time.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

"Clearly, something went wrong with the government’s plan, as the dense mass of humanity on the platform of downtown Tokyo’s Ikebukuro Station shows. So what happened?"

Incompetent Government. That's what happened.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Paul14Today  07:00 pm JST

This virus is really destroying the image Japan has as a competent, modern nation. 

I am afraid this is just a revelator of the real incompetency of the politician in Japan who cannot control or hide the disaster. The same happened to Trump, Modi and many others basically.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Same situation with food stores. They were asked to drastically reduce their hours, now the stores are jammed with people and many sticking out their noses under their masks.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

These decisions and the thinking or lack of behind them are more like that of a family vacation and not of a government in charge of 127 million people.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Starting on May 3, the Tokyo metropolitan government and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism requested that rail operators reduce their number of trains during the morning and evening rush hours for one week.

Just brilliant, isn´t it. Enforce social distancing by squeezing more people into fewer trains. Same with these shortened restaurant hours.

Got to love our bureaucrats.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

My train has always been much less crowded than the pre covid period. About 20-30% less people.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Same situation with food stores. They were asked to drastically reduce their hours, now the stores are jammed with people and many sticking out their noses under their masks.

I agree. I even see some really unhygienic people still eating and drinking on the train. Fiddling around with their masks as they put food into their mouths.

Just don’t.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What happened to the idea of working from home? . . . In doing so, I am able to use my time more efficiently, while avoiding unnecessary contact with others . . . .

1 ( +1 / -0 )

An extra dimension to the problem is that the opposition parties have been virtually invisible the whole time.

The LDP is like a brand here, people here like brand, I am sure if you put a JIminto label

on a dog and it runs against the opposition the populace will vote for the dog. That is how

strong the Jiminto spell on the populace is.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The large cities in Japan will continue to be healthy vectors for the virus as there is little chance to distance from others.

Having a car in Japan does not mean that it can be used.

However, in the UK my main form of transport is at present a car which allows me to socially distance.

Once people realise that the way to avoid crowded spaces is the way to avoid infection then we will see cases decline...

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

This country is run by out-of-touch fossilized old idiots. They should all resign. A group of schoolchildren could do a better job.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Clearly, something went wrong with the government’s plan

Ya think! The words "government" and "plan" don't seem to go well together and usually end in disaster around here lately.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The geniuses that came up with this policy...

The Policy Meeting:

”If we reduce the number of services, that will discourage people from commuting. Does everyone agree?”

Everyone: “Great idea. Let’s try that. We should add an announcement tagline with the word “refrain” in it.”

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

What happened to the idea of working from home? “

You must commute to the office. If you don’t then you aren’t really working. Face to face meetings are too important and essential.

This garbage. Old bosses in charge who are inept and unable to change or adapt.

Well done Japan.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

What did anyone expect!

I mean seriously,my wife's friend works customer call service for KDDI, doesn't meet customers only phone service and here we are over one year into this mess and she still has to go into the call centre every morning with all the other customers service workers.

No telework, train every day office full.

This is one of Japan's big telecom companies and they can't or won't even set up things so the customer call centre people can service people via telework.

If KDDI won't with all its resources available, don't hold your breath expecting other Japanese companies to change.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The often overused Japanese word, ‘Baka’, most certainly applies here.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

You all are missing the point with this story, they know people will still travel. They are making decisions that show the virus isn’t a serious threat except for elderly with pre existing conditions. They knew people would crowd the stations and it shows us that they aren’t concerned at all. If it was a very serious virus they would control the people going into stations. It’s okay for us to be crowded in a train but we can’t go shopping in a mall? Please someone try to explain this logic to me. Don’t tell me the train system is the life blood of the economy either. Consumer spending is just as important as riding a train is it not?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Yes, this is totally crazy. What is crazy is that in the middle of a pandemic the trains are packed every day.

The question I have is how much of the virus is spread on trains. Somehow it may not for reasons unknown.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

How can it be that a lot of posters on JT are able to see this coming from miles away, yet the people who are supposed to run this country, aren't? Mind boggling.

Can we apply for some kind of bureaucratic pay?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Trains have been packed since the birth of this virus, so long as people are not talking on these trains and have their mask properly worn, the risks aren’t so high I’ve been commuting with these crowded trains for the past year but here I am , not dead yet, better do what you can do to help prevent the spread and get on with life, I still feel safe in Japan than I will be in Europe or the Americas, have a good weekend

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That is what happens when the government shows no balls in imposing rules that protect citizens first and foremost when it matters. First of all, there is a strong need for a full lockdown worth a few weeks in order to crush the curve. Second, vaccine rollout has to be accelerated by all means, even if that involves the military for logistics. Third but not least, the government should provide their citizens all LEGAL measures to protect employees from any employer who chooses profit over safety.

This garbage. Old bosses in charge who are inept and unable to change or adapt.

I swear. I hope there's a special place in hell for those bosses for the utter disregard they show towards human life.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Stewart, I'm not even a Japanese voter (long-time resident) and I'm embarrassed.

Why? I mean really, why? Japanese national or otherwise, no one should feel embarrassed for the actions of others! They certainly dont give a crap, so why should YOU feel embarrassed!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Every country did that and at least that has actually science behind it.

I'd like hear about this science because to me it seems it would make it less likely that people would wash their hands after using the bathroom if they can't dry them. I bet in other countries they still have paper towels to fall back on. Not in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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