Yamanote line accident horrifies commuters

Yamanote line accident horrifies commuters

TOKYO —

At approximately 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, all trains on JR’s Yamanote line in Tokyo came to a sudden halt. The words “jinshin jiko” could be heard echoing through stations across Tokyo as announcements rang out explaining that service on the Yamanote line had been suspended and that other routes may suffer delays as a result.

“Jinshin jiko” literally means “human body accident,” and is a vague phrase used to communicate that someone may have been injured or killed as a result of a traffic accident. Very often, however, it means that someone has thrown themselves in front of a train.

Sadly, this is far from an unusual occurrence, and, as horrendous a sight it must be for anyone to witness, people have become used to hearing of these “accidents” on Tokyo’s train lines. However, photographs uploaded to Twitter by Japanese commuters have left many speechless and evoke feelings of pity for the driver of the train in particular, who will undoubtedly be left emotionally scarred by the incident.

Minutes after the incident, which occurred at Shinagawa station on the Yamanote line, images began appearing on Twitter showing the front window of the train severely damaged by the impact.

Tragically, Tokyo’s police and station staff are all too familiar with incidents of this kind. They quickly erected screens around the site while medical and clean-up crews arrived at the scene. Working hard to remove evidence of the incident while still conducting a proper on-site investigation, service was resumed on the Yamanote line approximately one hour later.

Although the person involved in the accident has yet to be formally identified, many Japanese bloggers are suggesting that it was a man aged 50-60. Eyewitnesses maintain that the man intentionally jumped in front of the moving train.

Testament to the frequency of incidents of this kind, many Japanese Twitters users initially posted comments as a means of sharing news of delays to JR’s services. Catching sight of the above images, however, the nature of the tweets soon changed, with many calling the incident “horrific” and “incredibly sad”. Despite station authorities working flat-out to erase all trace of the incident, even after normal service had resumed on the line, one Twitter user posted a disturbing message indicating that some evidence of the accident still remained, saying: “As the train pulled in to the station, the rush of air brought with it the smell of blood.”

Japan is believed to have the ninth highest suicide rate in the world, and is the leading cause of death in men aged 20-50.

If you or someone you know are living in Japan and suffering with depression or contemplating suicide, there are people here to help. Click here for information about support lines and groups in your area.

Source/images: NAVER まとめ

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  • -28

    Wakarimasen

    Tlagic.

  • -18

    basroil

    They need to start fining JR for every day that they delay in putting up platform gates. Yamanote is very easy since all platforms on the line service just one train type. There's no excuse for not using platform gates, which are the ONLY 100% EFFECTIVE solution.

  • 3

    Tokiyo

    If I remember correctly the barriers in Ebisu station didn't even take much time to get done...what is the holdup?

  • 3

    viking68

    Tragic that everyone has to unwilling participate in this person's demise. The death is a tragedy too, but unfortunately too common here.

    What I am surprised with is the one hour clean-up and investigative job.

  • 4

    viking68

    I am in favor of the barriers too.

  • 2

    Alex Einz

    They take their time on the barriers.. ebisu barriers havent been working for ages...

  • -5

    basroil

    viking68Jan. 25, 2013 - 02:58PM JST

    What I am surprised with is the one hour clean-up and investigative job.

    I'm not, since the yamanote gets a suicide every week. The cops are getting efficient at their job, just sad that JR lets them have that job in the first place.

  • 7

    bicultural

    I too am in favor of the barriers. I noticed they just started putting them up in Ikebukuro. By the way, the Yamanote does not have one suicide per week. I use the line almost everyday and I have an app telling me each and every time there is a delay. There are hardly any delays on that line and most are less than 5 minutes.

  • 0

    Virtuoso

    I never leave my house these days without first going to: transit.goo.ne.jp/unkou/kantou.html and checking to see if any rail schedules have been disrupted. This site has helped me avoid shutdowns and delays on numerous occasions in the past. Unfortunately it's in Japanese only but doesn't require much more than familiarity with the names of lines and stations to comprehend.

  • 1

    Probie

    If I remember correctly the barriers in Ebisu station didn't even take much time to get done...what is the holdup?

    Yeah, they put them up there, but the front end and back end of the platform didn't have them. So, they were of little use.

    The hold up, is more then likely money.

  • -8

    basroil

    biculturalJan. 25, 2013 - 03:46PM JST

    I noticed they just started putting them up in Ikebukuro. By the way, the Yamanote does not have one suicide per week.

    The number in 2009 was more than 18 (official) suicides on the Yamanote, and another 30 or so on Chuo. So yes, not one a week on yamanote alone (but certainly more than 1 per month), but more than one a week in Tokyo somewhere, on JR alone.

    ProbieJan. 25, 2013 - 03:59PM JST

    The hold up, is more then likely money

    Hardly, their fancy new entry gates cost far more to make and install. Perhaps the government needs to start fining JR 1000 yen per hour of delay per passenger on trains affected by platform suicide. That would make those platform gates pay for themselves in a single year.

  • 2

    rickyvee

    oh yeah, a one meter tall barrier will stop/reduce suicides in a significant way. so let's spend tens of billions of taxpayer dollars on that instead of actually improving mental health care.

  • 11

    Disillusioned

    Basroil - They need to start fining JR for every day that they delay in putting up platform gates.

    Fine JR for not putting up barriers? Are you serious? It's not their fault that so many whackos jump in front of trains to kill themselves and inconvenience millions of people. If you wanna blame someone you should start with the health ministry for doing very little about the suicide issue and then you could start on the labor ministry for having such ridiculous labor laws. And, if you still have a beef you could target AKB48 cos their suicide prevention campaign is not working.

    Yes, platform gates 'may' stop many people jumping in front of the trains, but that is not addressing the issue of why so many people are committing suicide. Do you really think the suicide rate would drop if platform gates were installed throughout the country? They would just find another way of offing themselves.

  • 1

    tmarie

    That poor driver!!! How horrific for everyone who has seen such a thing. If you're going to off yourself, go somewhere where no one else gets hurt - be it physically or mentally.

  • 14

    Nessie

    Japan is believed to have the ninth highest suicide rate in the world, and is the leading cause of death in men aged 20-50.

    Huh? Japan is the leading cause of death in men aged 20-50?

  • 3

    papigiulio

    I feel very sorry for traindrivers (in any country btw) who have to suffer these kind of incidents, that is an image you will never forget. :\

  • 0

    Tessa

    If you're going to off yourself, go somewhere where no one else gets hurt - be it physically or mentally.

    I hear ya. I've actually witnessed several of these horrifying incidents on my way to and from work. The first time I was truly horrified, and full of sympathy for the victim. The next few times I had exactly the same reaction as above, and so did most of the people around me.

  • -11

    basroil

    DisillusionedJan. 25, 2013 - 04:28PM JST

    Fine JR for not putting up barriers? Are you serious? It's not their fault that so many whackos jump in front of trains to kill themselves and inconvenience millions of people.

    It's their fault for not addressing a serious and known issue in platform design. It's far beyond negligence at this point. It's no different than fines imposed for any other preventable accident. Thinking otherwise will just lead to another Amagasaki rail type conclusion, where nothing is done to protect people simply because nobody wanted to prosecute the idiots in charge that could have easily prevented casualties.

    Yes, platform gates 'may' stop many people jumping in front of the trains,

    Platform gates do stop suicide, 100% of platform suicides with full height gates. There is no "may" in there, it's a physical certainty, unless you actually believe that suicidal people can pass through solid matter. Until you prove the existence of quantum tunneling suicidal people, the prevention rate will be 100% for full height gates.

  • 1

    viking68

    Basroil, I meant to make a statement similar to yours, but I didn't want to sound so crass. Thanks for taking the heat.

  • -5

    basroil

    viking68Jan. 25, 2013 - 04:48PM JST

    I meant to make a statement similar to yours, but I didn't want to sound so crass. Thanks for taking the heat.

    If people are going to hate your comment because you wrote it, might as well tell it how it is. Sometimes it is easier to be hated (out of ignorance) because of that ;)

  • 8

    Tessa

    Platform gates do stop suicide

    No. They stop suicides by train-jumping. They don't stop suicides per se.

  • -1

    Seirei Tobimatsu

    I tell my kids to see life thro' . Destitute & betrayed is a chance to shed baggage. Beg, steal or borrow . But don't court physical abuse. Run & hide and try another venue.

  • 0

    bass4funk

    We have these barriers in Fukuoka and it is a great relief to have them. But that's just the Subway system. Fukuoka is also famous for people jumping in front of trains. Two years ago, I was sitting in the local Nishitetsu express train, bound for Tenjin and there was a man around late 50's was hiding in the bushes and jumped right in front of the train. We were travelling over 60km. I will never forget the guys face. He tried NOT to look head on, he looked as if he was trying to jog and the train clipped him and without going into gory details, the aftermath is something you will never forget. I was so deeply shocked and astounded, but most of the Japanese on that train, were like "Oh, my" and 5 min later, were all talking and laughing. Now we were in a crime scene and had to wait 2 hours before the train started to move again, but I guess people are so desensitized to it, it hardly phased most of the people. The barriers wont Stop all of the suicides, but at least it can minimize them or at least, not hindering me from getting to work.

  • 10

    Scientia Vita

    "If you or someone you know are living in Japan and suffering with depression or contemplating suicide, there are people here to help. Click here for information about support lines and groups in your area." The problems is not the barriers ...depression is.

  • 3

    combinibento

    As the train pulled in to the station, the rush of air brought with it the smell of blood.

    Boy I would love to see if this was a haiku... Very nice line.

  • -7

    basroil

    Scientia VitaJan. 25, 2013 - 05:08PM JST

    The problems is not the barriers ...depression is.

    That's like saying that car crashes are a problem, not a lack of wearing seatbelts. Sure it's true, but you can't prevent 100% of the cause, while you can prevent 100% of the effect (from affecting others). Suicide is a general issue, suicide in JR lines is JR's issue that they could have eliminated long ago.

  • 0

    edojin

    Barriers should be erected at all stations in the Kanto area ... especially on the Chuo Line. Seems as if the suicides enjoy messing up someone else's schedule.

  • 7

    Disillusioned

    Basroil - Platform gates do stop suicide, 100% of platform suicides with full height gates.

    Platform gates do stop suicides ** at train platforms** , but they do nothing to stop suicides in general. Get it right! Even if every train station in Japan placed 1.5m high gates at all platforms it will do nothing to lower the suicide rates. These jumpers will go to a level crossing and walk in front of a train. They will always find a way Basroil and charging JR for a societal failure is wrong.

  • -10

    basroil

    DisillusionedJan. 25, 2013 - 05:53PM JST

    Platform gates do stop suicides ** at train platforms** , but they do nothing to stop suicides in general.

    Not according to statistics by London and Singapore. They found no increase in suicides at other stations, which would have to happen for the incorrect assumption that the suicides are not prevented. And regardless, JR's commitment stops at the trains, no need to discuss overall prevention because that's irrelevant to JR's need for platform gates.

  • 8

    Isthiezak

    Simple fact is that the cost and logistics are prohibitive. JR can't just put up barriers at all stations immediately. If there was a large number of ACCIDENTS caused by the lack of barriers, there'd be more pressure, but even then it's often down to personal responsibility. If it's JR's responsibility when someone falls in front of a train while drunk or fiddling on their keitai, whose responsibility is it when people doing the same thing get hit by a bus or car?

    JR are working on making barriers, but it's going to take time and money.

  • 1

    wipeout

    No. They stop suicides by train-jumping.

    They don't even do that: they stop people jumping in front of trains from platforms.

    That may be enough to reduce train suicides significantly - assuming most are a spur of the moment thing - but there is still a vast amount of unprotected and barely protected track around this country. Putting barriers on platforms may simply move the problem elsewhere.

  • 0

    Tessa

    Putting barriers on platforms may simply move the problem elsewhere.

    It **will **move the problem elsewhere, not only to unprotected train tracks, but mountains, cliffs, unguarded high-rise tower blocks, etc, thus putting a further strain on emergency and rescue services. Anybody who thinks otherwise really has no clue about this society.

  • -1

    MADCOWS

    the state should do somting to protect & help these valuable lives!

  • 0

    cramp

    the state should do somting to protect & help these valuable lives!

    plenty more where they came from

  • -1

    YeahRight

    This just tells me that suicide should be freely legal by means of a "suicide pill" or "suicide cocktail" so that those who are really ready to get out of the hell they are in can do so without putting others at risk or simply making them late for work. LET US DIE!

  • 0

    Thunderbird2

    This just tells me that suicide should be freely legal by means of a "suicide pill" or "suicide cocktail" so that those who are really ready to get out of the hell they are in can do so without putting others at risk or simply making them late for work. LET US DIE!

    No way should that be permitted. If someone has a terminal illness then it should be up to that person and a doctor to allow that person to slip away. Just because you have a bad day, or you lost your job/partner or were bullied at work/school doesn't give you the right to take your own life. If you make it too easy to pop a pill then every person who has a bad day will end up dead.

  • 2

    wipeout

    The hold up, is more then likely money

    Money is obviously a consideration. Some people on JT have commented that all stations should have platform barriers, as if it's just blindingly obvious.

    From 2000, platform screen doors were installed in the Hong Kong MTR after a few incidents where people had been pushed onto the tracks. The cost was added to passenger fares, and HK$0.10 is charged on each journey. It's a minuscule amount, just over 1 yen, but the MTR only has 86 stations (it took a five-year programme to install doors at 30 of them).

    By comparison, JR East serves 1700 stations. If they were to put the cost of that on your ticket, it would be a lot more than a few yen per journey. So they're far more likely to choose some stations over others for installing barriers, leaving many stations unprotected. It really is a question of money. Somebody has to pay for it.

  • 5

    The passage

    @basroil I think you are off the mark on this one.

    Platform gates do stop suicide, 100% of platform suicides with full height gates.

    They don't stop suicides, but they can stop suicides at some specific locations. Do you honestly believe that someone who has decided to leave this world will not commit suicide because it is inconvenient and train stations are suicide proof? Sure they can help, but they won't solve the core issues, which you don't mention. JR are installing, they recognised the issue and are doing something, but punitive fines for not completing will result in only one thing - higher train fares for travellers. Why not put some effort into why the suicides are occurring?

  • 4

    Tamarama

    Disillusioned

    It's not their fault that so many whackos jump in front of trains to kill themselves and inconvenience millions of people.

    People who commit suicide aren't 'whackos' - cut the crap man.

    Perhaps if people had a little more empathy for their fellow man, that might be a great start in reducing suicide numbers.

  • -1

    YeahRight

    No way should that be permitted. If someone has a terminal illness then it should be up to that person and a doctor to allow that person to slip away. Just because you have a bad day, or you lost your job/partner or were bullied at work/school doesn't give you the right to take your own life. If you make it too easy to pop a pill then every person who has a bad day will end up dead.

    Fine. So don't be surprised when more people decide that it's easier to jump in front of the train and inconvenience others than it is to go to a park, sit on a bench, take a pill, and just "go to sleep." That's what I want to do. I don't want to inconvenience others. But if I don't have the choice to let it all be over, than I have no choice other than to take the drastic measures that will inconvenience others. Your fault, not mine. Give me my out!

  • 1

    Serrano

    I hear JR is going to install platform gates at all stations on Yamanote Line by the end of 2014.

    Tragically too late for this suicide.

  • 0

    Pietro Zuco

    I witnessed a very similar scenario, back in 2007: http://zuco.org/2007/12/21/dead-in-yamanote-line/

  • -8

    Disillusioned

    Tamarama - People who commit suicide aren't 'whackos'- cut the crap man

    Oh, yes! That's right! They are completely normal people like you and me. Oh. wait a minute! My train is coming! Aaaaaaaaaaaaa! (thud) >_<

    • Moderator

      Readers, please keep the discussion civil.

  • -1

    Nessie

    Moving suicides to mountains would be economically effective in terms of reducing the economic losses incurred by people waiting for the train. Rescue/recovery would be paid for by the estate of the suicidal person. This may sound cold-hearted, but it's something to think about if you're going to be bringing up economic considerations, and these should be brought up.

  • 0

    badsey3

    they need to put a Shink bullet-nose on these. I really don't want to see a Mad-Max human catcher up front, but more of a Hello-Kitty plush style.

    The flat profile does create a moving air bubble that is very efficient with the air going over that.

  • -7

    basroil

    The passageJan. 25, 2013 - 07:23PM JST

    honestly believe that someone who has decided to leave this world will not commit suicide because it is inconvenient and train stations are suicide proof?

    Don't ask me, ask the experts that stated as such. I'm not an expert on suicides, so I leave it to the industry specialists who made the studies saying that suicides do not get transferred when installing platform gates. Train suicides have been shown to be acts of convenience, no known instances of someone specifically trying to kill themselves at a train station platform when there are barriers.

  • 1

    lucabrasi

    Seems to me there's sense on both sides in the barrier argument. Sure, anybody determined to end it all is going to go elsewhere and find a truck or a bus to jump in front of, but I bet there have been at least a few cases on miserable, rainy Monday mornings where people have just leaned forward and dropped, rather than face another day at work.

    I've had bad days like that myself, long time ago.

  • 0

    Open Minded

    There is one point I disagree with some posters.

    IMHO, most of the people who commit suicide are victims from the japanese social, family and work environment pressure (this is not a pure japanese specificity, but quite strong here). Thus I support the guys who decide to pass away by making a big mess. Because I believe they hope their action will trigger society changes.

    There is a massive issue here and it must be addressed. But not with AKB48 or company seminars and the like. The society must change, the corporate should consider their employees like human being and not numbers.

    People need to learn to have their own centers of interest out of the job. The companies should kill these overtime practices. And the salarymen should have the gut to go back home earlier and play their role with wife and kids. Not just get pissed every evening because of job difficulties and wives leading the family matter.

    Hence my point: if someone decide to commit suicide, make it loud and do not apologize for it. But blame the system loudly too!

  • 1

    gokai_wo_maneku

    The gates may stop out-of-shape oldsters from jumping, but any young guy could ealily pull himself over the top into the tracks.

  • 1

    Badge213

    Barriers WILL NOT reduce the suicide rate in Japan. It will not prevent someone who has decided to kill themselves from going to another station, train company, railway crossing, bridge etc etc.

    Mental health services and education is the key.

    Have women only cars stopped gropers in Japan? Nope. It's a bandage, not a solution.

  • -1

    Open Minded

    What is really horrifying is the number of desperate alive people. Not the butchery results on the Yamanote line or any other subway lines. Technical details and suggestions to minimize commuters' annoyance are just inappropriate and cynic.

  • 2

    HokoOnchi

    In a society where due courtesy and consideration of others is emphasized, this has to be an ultimate kind of statement against the alone-ness and despair that was being experienced.

  • 1

    Viviana Guadagno

    it is so sad !!!

  • 1

    Fadamor

    Barriers WILL NOT reduce the suicide rate in Japan. It will not prevent someone who has decided to kill themselves from going to another station, train company, railway crossing, bridge etc etc.

    I posted the same point, but the mods decided to delete it. I hope yours lasts longer.

  • 1

    Fadamor

    P.S. If someone intentionally jumps in front of a train and hits high enough to damage the windshield like that, it's not an "accident". It's a suicide.

  • -5

    basroil

    gokaiwomanekuJan. 25, 2013 - 10:19PM JST

    The gates may stop out-of-shape oldsters from jumping, but any young guy could ealily pull himself over the top into the tracks

    There has never been a single reported case at any station using platform gates, even half height ones you describe. Full height gates can't be jumped over unless you can travel through solid matter.

    Open MindedJan. 25, 2013 - 11:42PM JST

    Technical details and suggestions to minimize commuters' annoyance are just inappropriate

    A typical rush hour suicide can steal up to 13 person-years in just 45 minutes it takes to clean up. It's more than just annoyance, it's punishing innocent people for one person's selfish acts. Of course, platform gates would be able to make that 0 person-hours overnight, and then people can talk about how to prevent suicide in a positive way (rather than seeing it as a corrective method for uncivil behavior).

  • -2

    humanrights

    I can think of better ways to kill myself, especially after the families have to pay millions of yen for damages to the business and train.

  • 3

    Fadamor

    There has never been a single reported case at any station using platform gates, even half height ones you describe.

    Well sure. Why climb over a barrier when you can just walk in front of a train at a road crossing. ...or do you want to put barriers up THERE, too?

  • 1

    Daijoboots

    Barriers are not just about preventing suicide; cases of people falling onto the tracks or being hit by a train while near the edge of the platform will be reduced. About 60 percent of people injured or killed last year in such cases were drunk.

    The below links from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism show the increase in barriers on platforms over the last 10 years. 180 stations had barriers by the end of 2001 and this has increased to 539 stations by the end of September last year. Second link shows which stations and has photos of two types of barriers. http://www.mlit.go.jp/common/000209349.pdf http://www.mlit.go.jp/common/000209970.pdf

  • -3

    jerobeam

    judging by the train frequeny on the Yamanote and the fact that theyust keep going around and around it may ultimately be easier to transform the Yamanote into a giant moving walkway like in Asimov's 'caves of steel'

  • 0

    The passage

    Don't ask me, ask the experts that stated as such. I'm not an expert on suicides, so I leave it to the industry specialists who made the studies saying that suicides do not get transferred when installing platform gates.

    Hmmm, so they (experts) interviewed people who committed suicide to see if they changed location due to barriers? Nice thought, but doesn't compute! Shouldn't always rely on "experts" ;)

  • 0

    badman

    @Nessie-You could argue that Japan IS the cause such a high suicide rate.

  • 2

    smithinjapan

    People intent on suicide will find a way to do it, but I agree barriers may at least help prevent SOME cases, if not all, at the stations where they are erected. There's a reason people jump in front of a train to off themselves; in pretty much all cases it's instant death, it's easy (by that I mean just stepping or jumping off the platform), and they can do it spontaneously. I have absolutely no doubt that the number of suicides by train would go down at stations with barriers because the people who want to commit suicide would be put off by having to climb or get through a barrier to do it first; it would end the spontaneity and might even end with station attendants or other people stopping the person, and it would make it a lot harder.

    That said I agree with those that say money is a big problem. I think JR could put more effort and money into doing it faster, sure, but there ARE some practicalities to deal with and it certainly couldn't happen everywhere overnight.

    In any case, I hope the drivers of these trains and anyone else witnessing the incidents get full, free access to any help they need in talking through it and trying to get past it. Must be truly horrifying, to say the least.

  • -4

    basroil

    The passageJan. 26, 2013 - 01:33PM JST

    Hmmm, so the experts interviewed people who committed suicide to see if they changed location due to barriers?

    It's called statistics, and when you have a few years of data you can actually tell with high certainty if something has happened. In this case, they saw no increase in suicides at other stations that didn't have the gates, in addition to zero suicides at the stations with them. You'de be surprised what a high school math course could teach you (and more so university and engineering specific statistics courses), though apparently they never got around to that where you went to school.

    smithinjapanJan. 27, 2013 - 08:03PM JST

    That said I agree with those that say money is a big problem. I think JR could put more effort and money into doing it faster, sure, but there ARE some practicalities to deal with and it certainly couldn't happen everywhere overnight.

    Well, it's going to be cheaper to do one station than to repair that train and pay out compensation to those involved.

  • 0

    GJN48

    "Japan is believed to have the ninth highest suicide rate in the world, and is the leading cause of death in men aged 20-50."

    What is, being in Japan?

  • 0

    Martine Müller

    Jumping in front of a train in such a big city is like a signal... sad

  • -1

    Ian Robertson

    I have often thought since coming to live in Tokyo that this terrible occurrence could be easily resolved if all trains slowed down to a crawl well before reaching the platform. It would mean altering the train schedules permanently, but would surely make sure that no one would be killed by jumping in front of a train that is hurtling along the platform at full speed.

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