Anywhere else in the world, a train running 90 seconds late would perhaps be considered on time. But in Japan, 90 seconds would foil commuters who depend on trains' connecting to one another with balletic precision, often with only a couple of minutes to spare.
And so to make up for a lost 90 seconds, a 23-year-old train engineer, it has become increasingly clear, was speeding when his train jumped off the tracks at a curve here in western Japan and hurtled into a nine-story apartment building on Monday morning.
The death toll of the deadliest train accident in Japan in four decades rose Wednesday to 94. In this rusting industrial town just outside Osaka, workers continued to bring out bodies.
Across the country, the accident has already caused much soul-searching over Japan's attention to - some would say obsession with - punctuality and efficiency. To many, the engineer's single-minded focus on making up the 90 seconds seemed to reveal the weak points of a society where the trains really do run on time, but where people have lost sight of the bigger picture.
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