No matter what language you speak, words can sometimes have a way of landing us in trouble. Sometimes we exaggerate for the sake of making a sentence simpler by saying things like “just a sec.” Other times idiomatic phrases like “talk someone’s ear off” can lead to absurd literal translations.

And then there are times when a simple turn of phrase can inadvertently lead to a major incident involving the police and talk of a potential terrorist attack.

At around 9:10 a.m. on October 10 as a Nasuno 253 shinkansen (bullet train) was leaving Tokyo Station, a man overheard another passenger talking on a mobile phone. He was shocked when he heard his fellow passenger utter the words “explode in the train” and called the emergency number 110.

After receiving the report, the authorities intercepted the train at Nasushiobara Station at 9:32 a.m. They evacuated all of the passengers and began a half-hour sweep of the train cars.

The search turned up no suspicious objects, but by this time an investigation of the passengers found that someone had made a comment during a mobile phone conversation that had been taken a little out of context. They had apparently said that they had to pee so bad, their bladder was going to “explode in the train.”

Upon hearing this news Japanese netizens reacted with a reasonable amount of incredulousness and wondered whether this was in fact something out of a comedy sketch. Their disbelief can only be compounded by the fact that shinkansen trains are equipped with toilets that any passenger in dire need could use.

The lesson we can all take from this is that everyone should have the right to free speech but should also exercise judgment in choosing what we say. Otherwise, we risk accidentally making a bomb threat of our reluctance to use public toilets.

Source: Shimotsuke Shimbun (Japanese)
Image: Wikipedia – Rsa
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