As reported by Nikkei News and Livedoor News, as part of the new governments initiative to make Japan "the easiest place in the world to do business," the government is considering making the metro (subway / underground) and buses in 5 of the biggest cities in Japan run around the clock 24 hours a day. Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya were designated in the report but only mentioned Toei and not JR lines.
One of the reasons why transport has never run 24 hours is because of the need for periodical safety checks of vehicles, rail lines and equipment which attributes to the incredible service of the spot on service times which you can set your watch by.
One of the bad things about this however is that employees cant use the "Shuden" excuse anymore. "Shuden" means "Last Train" which is often the only excuse an employee has to go home.
Many Japanese employees feel they cant go home before others as it gives then impression that they are not working. In a previous company I worked at, on a day just like any other day, I spoke to the two ladies who were still at work. I asked "How come you still at work?" They said "Because the boss is still here."
I then asked the boss "Why are you still at work - its late" and he said "Because my staff are still here."
In a situation like this, the only way that anybody can go home is to use the "Last Train" excuse. Companies usually pay for employees transport but it would not be good for an employee to expense the taxi fare back home which is why the Last Train excuse is perfectly fine to use. Taxi's usually increase the fare when the train service has stopped because they know you have no other way of getting home ^^;
Previously working at Amazon and Microsoft, I've not been too bothered about what others think if I leave at 6 or so. Just as long as my team and I meet our goals then its not the amount of time we spend at work that matters - its the amount of work done in the designated time at work that matters.
If you got a boss who openly says that you should stay behind then you are probably working in the wrong place - time to send out your resume!
Back in the UK, while trains stopped at around midnight, busses continued to run through the night at a reduced service. When I was working at a Japanese restaurant, I would often finish work past midnight and running for the bus was always a memorable experience - many bus drivers in London just want to get home - stopping at a bus stop for passengers just means that they are going to get home later ^^;
At the time, busses in London where of the round bus variety meaning that you can just run after a bus and jump on - which is what I often had to do and if I missed that bus then I'd have to wait another hour ><
How about in your neck of the woods? Is there a 24 hour public transport service?
Anyway, as for when the metro in Japan will start its 24 hour service is uncertain and looks like they will implement this initially over the weekends as they figure out their safety inspection schedules - I'll let you know when its all in place.
I know many visitors to Japan who have arrived late at Haneda only to discover there is no more transport meaning a night on a sofa in the lounge. Have you visited Japan only to be caught out by the lack of transport at night?
The following train related photos all taken from posts in the Japan category on this site.