Part of the Human Comedy series
May contain incomplete facts
The Japanese consider punctuality a golden rule. Being late to work without a valid excuse is a taboo. Oversleeping, missing the train or being moderately ill is not a valid excuse. Offenders will have to publicly apologize to everyone in the office.
Since most Japanese use high-speed trains and these trains run like clockwork, getting to work on time is not really an issue. In recent years, however, Japanese workers have from time to time arrived late to work for something beyond their control. Every day, there is at least one person who jumps in front of a fast train somewhere in Japan. This disruptive action causes trains to temporarily stop or slow down and workers arrive late to the office. People will have to obtain an excuse note from the train conductor.
The Japanese don't see suicide as a big deal unless it is nuisance to others. Causing people to be late to work is a nuisance. Japan Rail has recently put in place a policy of charging the family of the suicidal person for the cost of the clean-up. The bill could be in the millions of dollars. If the deceased person does not have an immediate family, his relatives may be billed instead. Japan Rail hopes this will dissuade people from using fast trains as suicide weapons and from being an unnecessary burden to others.