Use your noodle: Tokyo metro offers free food to ease crowding

Around 7.2 million people use Tokyo’s mammoth metro system every day, with some lines suffering notorious crowding during commuting hours. (AFP)
Updated 21 January 2019
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Use your noodle: Tokyo metro offers free food to ease crowding

  • Around 7.2 million people use Tokyo’s mammoth metro system every day
  • Among the worst affected is the Tozai line, which is now trying to entice users to take trains before the worst of the morning rush hour

TOKYO: One of Tokyo’s most crowded subway lines is hoping the way to reach their customers’ hearts is through their stomachs, and offering free food to ease rush hour congestion.
Around 7.2 million people use Tokyo’s mammoth metro system every day, with some lines suffering notorious crowding during commuting hours.
Among the worst affected is the Tozai line, which is now trying to entice users to take trains before the worst of the morning rush hour.
If it can convince at least 2,000 commuters to take earlier trains over the next two weeks, Tokyo Metro — the company operating the line — will offer each of the early birds free tempura.
And if 2,500 people complete the challenge to ride into work earlier every day over the period, they will each get a free bowl of soba.
If over 3,000 commuters get on board, they’ll get a combo — soba and tempura — for their trouble.
The offer of free noodles comes as the Tokyo Metropolitan Government launched its own initiative over the next two weeks to encourage commuting outside of peak hours.
Nearly 1,000 businesses are taking part in the campaign, allowing their staff to start and end work earlier than usual, or work from home.
Metro officials have long attempted various campaigns to ease rush hour conditions especially on the Tozai Line, which links eastern suburbs of Tokyo and Chiba directly to the business districts of the world’s largest metropolis.
During the hour from 7:50 am to 8:50 am, more than 76,000 passengers use the line, double the number of people the train was originally designed to comfortably serve.
Trains on the line operate at 199 percent capacity, which is still considered safe, but means passengers are packed so tightly they would have difficulty moving their bodies or limbs, said Takeshi Yamashita, a Tokyo Metro spokesman.
“This is our most congested line. We are always trying to ease the rush hour congestion,” he said.
“We hope this will encourage people to continue (taking early trains) to help ease the rush hour situation,” he said.
Commuter congestion is expected to be among the logistical challenges Tokyo will face when it hosts the Olympics next year summer, with some experts urging initiatives including tele-working to avoid chaos during the Games.


Iraqi police arrest man selling Saddam Hussein watches in Baghdad

Updated 22 April 2019
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Iraqi police arrest man selling Saddam Hussein watches in Baghdad

  • Since the fall of Hussein, promotion of the former leader, the regime or the Ba’ath party is prohibited
  • Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death by hanging on Dec, 30 2006

LONDON: Police in Iraq have arrested a man selling watches in central Baghdad with images of the country’s former dictator Saddam Hussein on their faces.
Since the fall of Hussein, promotion of the former leader, the regime or the Ba’ath party is prohibited.
Baghdad police department said in a statement that they acted after they had received a tip from a member of the public that someone was selling wristwatches with pictures of Saddam Hussein on them.
The statement did not give further details about the arrest.
Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death by hanging on Dec, 30 2006 after being convicted of crimes against humanity.
Iraq’s judiciary recently said no decision or law had been implemented to punish Saddam Hussein’s supporters and pointed out that any step in this regard should be first initiated by the Iraqi Parliament, despite the country’s constitution prohibiting the existence of the former Ba’ath party.
This statement came after a popular poet appeared in the southern province of Dhi Qar, delivering a poem that many saw as a tribute to Saddam Hussein, who ruled Iraq for decades, from 1979 until his fall in 2003.