Japanese train line apologizes for departing seconds too early

Commuters usually groan about delays and canceled trains, but a Japanese rail company is apologizing on Tuesday for departing early — 20 seconds to be exact.

The Tsukuba Express line between Tokyo and the city of Tsukuba in Japan was scheduled to leave 9:44:40 local time, but instead left at 9:44:20, robbing riders the 20 seconds to sprint to the train before the doors close. The train was departing from the Minami Nagareyama Station, located north of Tokyo.


The company’s management issued an apology on its website, saying it was “sincerely” sorry.

“We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused to you by our customers,” the statement read.

The company blamed the crew for failing to “sufficiently check the departure time and perform the departure operation.” It added that no complaints have been filed about the early departure.

“We taught the crew so that the basic actions to prevent recurrence are thoroughly carried out,” the statement read. “That's all.”

Some people on social media were flabbergasted the company apologized, with some even recalling their bad moments with different trains.

“Tokyo train company’s apology for 20-second-early departure is one of the best things about Japan,” one person tweeted.

Another person wrote, “I once had an Israeli bus driver laugh at me after he closed the door on my hips and drove off with my legs hanging out of the bus. I am so envious of Japan right now.”


The apology could stem from the precise nature of the trains in Japan. The country boasts one of the most reliable railways in the world, where trains usually follow the schedule to the T, the BBC reported. The Tsukuba Express line takes Japanese commuters from Tokyo to Tsukuba, about 37 miles away, in roughly 45 minutes.