JR East removes cover from Russian guide sign at Ebisu Station after online backlash

TOKYO – East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) removed the paper covering a Russian-language guide sign at Ebisu Station on April 15 in response to online criticism after covering up the sign when some passengers complained about it. having displayed the language after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We have concluded that it is appropriate to restore the sign in light of various opinions,” JR East said. “We apologize for causing misunderstanding about the guide sign at the station.”

In early April, the train operator covered the Russian sign at the entrance gate to the station’s west exit in the capital’s Shibuya district with a notice reading “under adjustment”.

The move drew criticism online, with one person saying, “What are they adjusting?” while another commented: “The Russian language is not to blame.”

In response, JR East removed the notice covering the Russian connection time for the first train on the morning of April 15.

A sign displayed in Russian is seen at JR Ebisu station in this November 2, 2021 photo provided by a reader, months before it was covered in paper.

According to the railway company, the Russian sign was installed ahead of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in anticipation of an increase in the number of foreign visitors using the station. Regarding the languages ​​used for station signs, JR East explained, “Basically, we use four languages: Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean. As for languages ​​other than these, each station decides how to display them at its own discretion.

At Ebisu Station, signs for destinations such as “Roppongi” and “Naka-meguro” were displayed in Russian. After Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in February, some passengers complained that it made them “uncomfortable to see the signs written in Russian”.

The train operator said it had decided to stop displaying the Russian sign and cover it with paper from April 7 because it was necessary to sort out the languages ​​used for the signs after the Tokyo Games ended. and asking how to get to the Russian Embassy in Japan had also declined.

A 51-year-old company employee who used the Ebisu station on April 14 told the Mainichi Shimbun: “The Russians in Japan are not to blame. It makes me rather uncomfortable to see a notice saying ‘in adjustment course “.”

A woman in her 30s who works for a restaurant said she had an acquaintance born to Russian and Japanese parents. “If she saw the sign covered in paper, it would make her sad,” she said.

(Japanese original by Kazuki Mogami and Ryo Endo, Tokyo City Information Department)