On the night of May 27, 2011, the limited express Super Ozora No. 14 derailed and all of its six cars caught fire inside a tunnel on the Sekisho Line of Hokkaido Railway Co. (JR Hokkaido). A crew of four and 248 passengers were on the train and 79 people were injured. JR Hokkaido President Naotoshi Nakajima committed suicide in September that year over the accident.

It was expected that JR Hokkaido would improve the safety of its train operations following this serious accident, but this did not happen. Instead, the situation appears to be going from bad to worse. In July, a series of fire-and-smoke incidents involving JR Hokkaido limited express trains ensued, causing concerns to tourists. The company was forced to suspend through the end of August the operation of 36 trains using the same type of diesel engines found in the trains that experienced the fire-and-smoke incidents.

Irregularities involving JR Hokkaido did not stop there. On Nov. 11, suspicions arose that data concerning railway gauges had been fabricated. The transport ministry later confirmed that the fabrication had taken place. This is a serious problem that concerns the fundamentals of safe train operations. Irregular rail track conditions can cause derailments, which can result in injuries and death. JR Hokkaido workers who fabricated the data and officials who failed to detect the fabrication must realize that they have been involved in criminal activity related to railway safety.