Wait a sec: Smartphones helping more in Japan deal with irritatingly long waits, survey says

by Magdalena Osumi

Staff Writer

People in Japan are less frustrated if forced to wait in public places compared with a decade ago, and smartphones are helping them kill time, a recent survey by Citizen Holdings Co. found.

In April, the watchmaker asked 400 businesspeople in their 20s to 50s who use smartphones how long it takes until they are frustrated by certain situations — from waiting for trains to being seated at restaurants to dealing with administrative institutions.

According to the poll released June 3, 67 percent of respondents said waiting in lines at administrative institutions for five to 15 minutes makes them irritated. This is much less, however, compared with the 2003 survey, when 83 percent responded similarly.

In the case of waiting for medical checkups at hospitals, 50.6 percent of the respondents said they begin feeling nervous after about 45 minutes, which is nearly 20 percent fewer than a decade ago. However, 42 percent also said they wanted the waiting time reduced to zero.

Citizen Holdings spokesman Masato Watanabe said the firm conducted the poll on the assumption that smartphones have changed people’s attitudes toward time spent waiting.

“Ten years ago, there were only old-type cellphones allowing people to send emails, or magazines to read while waiting,” Watanabe said. “People now have more options to enjoy, thanks to smartphones.”

Meanwhile, regarding commuter trains, 75 percent of the respondents said they tended to get frustrated after three to 10 minutes of waiting for trains to arrive.

In more personal situations, people appeared to be growing increasingly more patient. The data suggested 57.3 percent were willing to line up at theme parks for more than an hour, especially women. In the case of waiting for dates, 70.1 percent said they would remain patient waiting for at least half an hour.

Asked about the time they are prepared to spend waiting in line to enter a top-flight restaurant, about 70 percent said they could wait between 30 minutes to an hour. In terms of late-night taxis, 54 percent said they were willing to wait in line 15 minutes.

The poll was disclosed a week before “Time Day” Monday, which marks the June 10, 671 legendary start of Japan’s first water clock.

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