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Career derailment

The head of JR West has announced that he will resign, following last month's disastrous train crash that killed 107 people. Kyodo News reports:

West Japan Railway Co President Takeshi Kakiuchi on Tuesday indicated he will resign to take responsibility for Japan's fourth-deadliest postwar train accident in Hyogo Prefecture last month. Speaking at a Diet committee, Kakiuchi said he will announce his resignation at an appropriate time, but said he cannot tell when at this point.
Frankly, given Japanese cultural traditions, I'm surprised he hasn't already done so, or even taken his own life. Yet as recently as last Friday, Kakiuchi had refused to quit.

Under Kakiuchi, JR West cruelly disciplined train conductors who fell behind schedule, pressuring them to break track speed limits. The Sydney Morning Herald reports:
Yes, on-time performance is a virtue of a good transport system but for drivers at JR West, it means pain.

There is ritual punishment for drivers who run late. Similar to bullying or a military hazing, it is called "day-shift education". The driver in the April derailment had already been through it once and feared a repeat, said colleagues.

"What day-shift education means is that the employee in question is surrounded by his superiors and other managers and subjected to severe reprimands, insults and abuse and is forced to do meaningless chores and to write meaningless reports," said the vice-president of the Japan Confederation of Railway Workers, Osamu Yomono.

One driver, forced to pull weeds in the railway yards and write reports for weeks, had committed suicide.
When it came to subordinates, Kakiuchi's company had no problem meting out old-school Japanese punishment. Evidently, he didn't believe such harsh traditions should apply to himself as well.




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