Friday, May 6, 2005
Search Google News Japan today with the keyword "bowling" (in Japanese) and you'll turn up a bevy of articles on a rather telling incident. I don't have time to do a full translation now, but the long and short of it is that a group of several dozen junior and senior JR West employees participated in a mixed "bowling party", an after-party, and then ANOTHER after party (with "all you can drink booze") and then ANOTHER after-after party (!!!) FULLY aware that there had been a train accident "of the hightst level of seriousness" (as designated by JR) with (as it was known at that time) at least 50 casualties and 100 wounded passengers earlier that morning (April 25). As much as I loathe the tackiness of American society at times, I can't imagine this happening in my country (we have much more subtle ways of being callous). JR West has, yesterday and today, held several press conferences trying to cover their collective asses. Oh, if anyone out there isn't aware, the reason 100 people died and several hundred were injured was because the freshman train driver was speeding in an effort to try and make up the 'lost time' caused by him over-running the platform of a previous train. How much time was he trying to make up for by running his train at a break-neck speed? 10min? Nope. 5min? Sorry. It was...wait for it...just under 1min. 30sec. Obviously punctuality takes precedence over human lives in some countries. Since he was a freshman employee with a spotty record (previous mistakes), he probably thought that he would be fired by JR West (this assumption is justified), and so he basically freaked out and spead. (Yuki blogs about this here.) Or instead of reading what Yuki and I have to say about this, you could just look at a pretty picture representing the ecstasy and passion of a Tokyo train driver HERE. (Photo and hyper-chimerical conception of life in Japan courtesy of Momus.) In a related story, a newly produced pamphlet helping the survivors deal with the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder they are beginning to experience is being distrubuted by JR West employees with the highest bowlings scores. The question of the hour is: Can Japan pick up this ethical 7-10 split?