Is it a sin to be late in Japan!? ~Why are Japanese strict for a delay?~

日本人の考え方(かんがえかた):Thinking of Japanese

Japanese article is here;

Japanese railway companies say “Sorry” for a delay

Hello, this is MIKA! Long time no see(^▽^;)

I know this is sudden, but I have a question; have you ever thought “Japanese are too strict for a time!!”, haven’t you?

For example, it is known that Japanese railway companies keep a departure time strictly. It’s already a daily event for us they announce an apology when they delay just a few minutes.

Suprisingly, one of them have apologized for the just 20 seconds delay!! This event has got into the news around the world.

Anyway, why are Japanese strict for a time? And why do we have to apologize for a delay?

What is “A delay” for Japanese?

If you keep Japanese waiting?

“OMG!! I overslept!!”

…..Everyone have an experience like this.

When you overslept, what do you do? You hurry or don’t?

And if you are waiting for a late riser, you will forgive or not?

Of course the answer depends on the national character, personal opinion, situation and their relationship. So there isn’t the absolute answer.

However, if the person waiting for you is Japanese who get to know recently…?

In the case of your friend, you may lose your credit because of the only once delay!!

In addition, it’s bad to keep someone waiting for a ling time. In my case, it makes me sick someone be lating over 15 minutes without any contacts.

If he or she is familiar with you, it’s better not to be late. When you’re late, contact of apology at first, and hurry as fast as possible.

The reason why Japanese are strict for a delay

Then, why are they strict for a delay?

Because it’s a sinful action for Japanese to snatch the time of someone who is waiting for you!

If you’re late for a business negotiation or conference, Japanese people think “You’re rude”, and it makes your value worse greatly.

……Anyway, how do you think about it?

“It’s not a big problem. I’ll just recover if I’m late”……there is the room of questions and counterarguments like that.

However, unfortunately you lose something big because of the only once delay, and it needs very hard efforts to recover.

When do we start to be strict for a time?

People were tolerance in Edo era

By the way, when do Japanese people start to be strict for a time?

Unexpectedly the answer is from Meiji era(1868~1912); until Edo era(1603~1868), Japanese people were quiet contrary to present times. In other words, we had been tolerance for a time until the opening to the world.

Because people had recognized a time by the announce of the bell for every 2 hours!

It means they didn’t have the concept of “Second” and “Minute”, it’s quiet natural they were unpunctual.

That’s why Westurn people who were in Japan in the end of Edo era made many records like that; “Japanese people are loose enough to embarrass us!”.

People have been strict from Meiji era

However, Modernization had been advancing drastically by the opening to the world, Japanese sense of a time has been reversed accordingly in an instant.

The most impactful event was the service of a railway; because the movement of society will stop if trains don’t be on time. Needless to say, we can’t trade smoothly if the delay of commodities occours.

Japanese people have the characteristic to addapt fastly when the social sense of value changes. Being serious by nature, we’ve efforted hard too much.

An extension is OK even a delay is not OK; Why?

Japanese people often extend a conference

Then, you may have a question; “Why do they allow an extension even they don’t allow a delay?”.

For example, in the case of Japanese company, they think they should be punctual for a starting time; on the other hand, they think it’s OK to extend an ending time. Why?

It’s so inconsistent with philosophy, however, it’s the issue many Japanese including me never find this contradiction until we’re indicated by others. Embarrassing to say, we think it’s quiet natural.

The more we take a time, the better it will be?

The answer is many Japanese think that “The more we take a time the better it will be” for not only a study but also a job?

For instance, there are some people who say “I’ve stayed up all night for three days” proudly as a proof of their effort; it’s the characteristic of Japanese, isn’t it?

You think it’s inefficiently and foolish enough to study or work by staying up all night, don’t you? I think so too.

But Japanese tend to think “The more we stay up all night or work overtime, the better it will be” without knowing why.

However, these opinions have started to become obsolete now.

If you join Japanese company and are forced to work overtime without any saraly, retire as soon as possible because it’s illegal!!

Additionally, if there is the description like “見込(みこ)み残業代(だい)を含(ふく)む” in the box of the saraly information, it’s better not to apply for that company.

Also never be fooled the catchphrase like “アットホームな職場(しょくば)です!”, because it means “You should stay in our company all the time”, not “Our company has a homelike atmosphere”!

Final comment

How about it?

When you start to live in Japan or interact with Japanese people by your hobby or job, it’s better to pay attention for a delay; do you think so?

But it doesn’t means all of Japanese strict for a time. It’s different by his or her character, relationship and local colour; for example, in Okinawa prefecture, local people think it’s natural to be late for gathering like a compotation exceptionally.

Then, if you’re late by the delay of a train, most people will forgive you.

In that case, receive “遅延(ちえん)証明書(しょうめいしょ)”, a certificate of lateness to submit for your school or company.

Anyway, it’s an ironclad rule to “Arrive before 10 minutes” for a meeting with Japanese!

It’s too difficult for you, but do your best to make good relationship with Japanese people.