Last Thursday I was on the Yamanote line (the main green line which circles Tokyo’s main spots) going to work when a girl on crutches got in but did anyone in the priority seats give up their seat for her? Of course not! Well not at first anyway. She nearly had to collapse before someone offered her their seat which I found disgusting especially in a city famed for its kind and polite mannerisms.
While I think that that politeness is sometimes only reserved for certain customs (visiting a house or doing business) there seems to be less courtesy in these designated parts of the trains. The priority seats are reserved for pregnant, elderly or less-able people but it seems that the common way to avoid any guilt when sitting in such an area is just to close ones eyes thereby shutting out the guilt as the Japanese approach to such situations is to just grin and bare it and thus avoid confrontation.
People often give up or offer their friends the seat on such an occasion when one is free but its still often the lady who lets her husband or boyfriend have the final remaining seat which is certainly not a gentlemanly thing to do and thats coming from someone who is anything but the James Bond/David Beckham stereotypical British gentleman envisaged by the Japanese.