Asia Minute: Easing Tokyo’s Morning Commute

Jul 19, 2018

Rush hour at Tokyo Station Yamanote Line and Keihintouhoku Line from Ueno
Credit Chris 73 / Wikimedia Commons

If a morning commute is part of your work life, it’s probably not your favorite part of the day. But it definitely could be worse. In one Asian city, the government is stepping in to try to help — especially during the summer.

Government officials in Tokyo would like commuters to stagger their morning arrival times to the office. The governor even announced a special month-long campaign that started last week.

It’s aimed at easing the notorious morning crowding on Tokyo’s trains — by asking workers to start their days earlier, and work from home when they can.

That part about working from home may be popular with workers, but some Japanese companies are still a bit hesitant about telecommuting.

The idea of showing up to work earlier has much broader corporate support — Bloomberg reports 740 companies are taking part. More than double the number that participated in the program’s initial trial last year.

Some businesses are even offering breakfast at the office for early arrivals.

Commuters who use trains before or after rush hour can be eligible for points that give them a chance to win prizes from the city’s Bureau of Transportation.

Shinjuku JR Train Station, Tokyo
Credit Marc Smith / Flickr

It’s a summer campaign — a season that can be sweltering in Tokyo. This year is no exception, temperatures are hovering steadily in the low to mid-90’s — with steamy sweatbox humidity. 

Specifics of the campaign remain somewhat imprecise. Although the tone is heartfelt and positive, if a bit vague — like the campaign’s slogan: “If mornings can change, every day can change.”