Loudest critic cays it’s not moms travelling with kids who need to step up their manners.

Politeness is especially important in Japanese society, which cultural guidebooks often attribute to Confucian philosophy and other historical influences. As often as not, though, Japanese politeness is a product of modern Japan being a very crowded nation in which you’re almost always having to share the space immediately around you with other people, and being polite is the only way to get along and keep society functioning.

That’s especially true when riding Japan’s convenient yet crowded trains, which is why rail operators put so much effort into public awareness campaigns asking passengers to act courteously and avoid casing problems for one another. However, one request from Tobu Railway has some saying the company is going too far, or at least making a mistake about who needs to be polite to who.

In late March, Japanese Twitter user @sterada was riding the Tobu Tojo Line, which runs from Yorii in Saitama Prefecture to Ikebukuro in downtown Tokyo. While en route to his destination, he looked up at an in-train video monitor, which cycles through information on upcoming stations and other notices, and saw a message from Tobu Railway Company, which translates as:

“Passengers using baby strollers, please take care to be considerate of other passengers around you.”

The notice was accompanied by an English version, which read:

“Please handle strollers with care and pay attention to others.”

The request didn’t sit well with @sterada, who shared a photo of the monitor in a now-protected tweet, along with his take on the matter:

“I’m sending this tweet to show how extremely upset I am about this message shown inside the train on the Tobu Tojo Line, saying ‘Passengers using baby strollers, please take care to be considerate of other passengers around you.’ Isn’t it the other passengers who should be considerate towards people who are trying to go somewhere with their children? It’s common sense to be considerate towards mothers who are with babies, who require extra care. The rail company’s conduct is terrible.”

It’s not clear how long Tobu has been displaying the message on its trains, though it can also be seen on carriages on the company’s Noda Line, which skirts downtown Tokyo and runs through the capital’s neighboring Saitama and Chiba Prefectures. @sterada’s tweet was the first time many Twitter users had heard of it though, and it set off a debate between those who felt the plea for politeness was being directed towards the wrong people and others who have been frustrated by parents aggressively pushing strollers through crowds like a battering ram or parking them inside carriages in ways that take up more space than necessary.

In light of @sterada’s tweet and its reactions, Tobu Railway Company itself has conceded that its choice of words was overly forceful, and is currently considering changing it.

Source: Twitter/@sterada via Hachima Kiko, Yahoo! News Japan/Chiba Nippo
Top image: Pakutaso

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