Got transferred to Tokyo by my company, and the trains are late almost everyday. When trains are late in the morning we send an email stating that we'll be late.

Customarily we end the mail with "ご迷惑おかけしますが、よろしくお願い致します。"

Writing it like this feels like I'm taking the blame for something totally out of my control.

Can I place the blame where it actually belongs, ending with something like "JR東がご迷惑おかけしてますが、よろしくお願い致します。"?

  • In English I would most likely just state that the trains are running late so I'll be delayed. – Y12K Apr 3 '17 at 1:39
  • Also how about 〇〇のせいで遅くなります。宜しくお願いします。 – Leo Apr 3 '17 at 1:46
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because "Can I place the blame where it actually belongs" in a professional communication is a problem of manners, more appropriate for the Workplace Stack Exchange. Otherwise the question should be rephrased to "I want to sound utterly unprofessional; with what words can I achieve that in Japanese?" – macraf Apr 3 '17 at 2:06
  • @macraf I don't believe it's off-topic, because I'm asking about the content, not the context. If it was the circumstances surrounding sending the email instead of the content of the email I would have gone to Workplace-SE. – Y12K Apr 3 '17 at 2:20
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    @macraf I disagree. Accurately describing a situation/spinning a situation is an important part of business language. For example in English you wouldn't want to say "I'm sorry that my train is late. I apologize for inconveniencing you." Instead you might say something like "The chuo line is running late, but I'll get started on whatever I can from in the train. Thanks for understanding." – Leo Apr 3 '17 at 2:20

Japanese people say ご迷惑をおかけします and 申し訳ありません even when they are not to blame. As long as you adequately describe the situation, no one will think you are to blame. Likewise, when a Japanese person says ご迷惑をおかけします, すみません, 申し訳ありません or I'm sorry, you should not take it for granted that they admitted a fault. Saying JR東がご迷惑おかけしていますが in this situation sounds funny at least.

After all, JR East is saying 電車が遅れまして大変申し訳ありません all the time even when the company is not to blame at all. If heavy snow stopped a train, a conductor usually says ご迷惑をおかけしています. If someone jumped in front of a train, the company says 大変申し訳ありません. That's what JR East is expected to say as a reliable company, and that's also what you are expected to say as a responsible businessperson.

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  • Good points. Explains the connotation behind the phrase. – Y12K Apr 3 '17 at 2:33
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    "Japanese people say ご迷惑をおかけします and 申し訳ありません even when they are not to blame." How far do you think that this actually extends? For example: If a bird pooped on a restaurant guest would the server say ご迷惑をかけしました? If another customer spilled beer on me would the waitstaff apologize to me? If the electricity went out and I couldn't do a powerpoint presentation should I say ご迷惑をかけました? I think this is the core of the problem. Obviously the "apologies" can extend to things outside of your control but exactly how far do they go and how much of the responsibility are you actually taking? – Leo Apr 3 '17 at 2:49
  • @Leo that's true, but if we start debating the extent I'm not sure we could get a definite answer and seems like it would become speculation. If it was in legal terms would be interested in the level of responsibility though... – Y12K Apr 3 '17 at 2:54
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    IMO... "If a bird pooped on a restaurant guest" → This may not be a good example because I think the restaurant should control it. "If another customer spilled beer on me" → No, it's the customer who have to say sorry. "If the electricity went out" → Yes, you can naturally say すみません/ご迷惑を… although you don't have to. – naruto Apr 3 '17 at 3:07
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    @Leo any one of your examples can (reasonably or not) be thought of as the fault of the business owner. Snow on tracks → could have engineered better trains. Suicide by train → could have made it more difficult to get on the tracks in the first place. Bird poop → could have sealed off outdoor seating better. Another customer spilling beer → could have had more space / separators between customers. Even natural disasters can be expected by some degree. Not designing/engineering against it is taking a risk. Now, whether you would actually be responsible depends on laws/agreements. – Amani Kilumanga Apr 3 '17 at 7:04

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