Innumerable cases of false groping accusations resulting in prosecutions have led to a formal demand for woman only carriages to be complemented by an equal number of men only carriages to curb the problem.
The demand for the implementation of men only carriages was formally submitted by a group of shareholders to the fourth general meeting of shareholders for Seibu Holdings, a major rail operator. It stipulates that men only compartments should be provided in equal number to women only compartments, or in proportion to the gender of passengers overall.
Its reasoning reads as follows:
“On Seibu operated railways, numerous groping (chikan) incidents have been reported, as well as numerous false accusations of such. Countermeasures are required to curb this.
One such countermeasure has been the implementation of woman only carriages, and it seems this has borne some fruit, however it has no effect whatsoever on the incidence of false accusations. In Kansai, there have been very many such false accusations, and the danger of being falsely accused is exceedingly high.
The implementation of men only carriages would be less costly than operating cameras, and would not endanger the privacy of passengers; its effectiveness is also assured. Additionally, the equality of men and women is guaranteed by Article 14 of the Constitution, so establishing these carriages for men is necessary.”
It does seem undeniable that segregating men and woman would drastically reduce the incidence of both groping and false accusations.
Seibu Holdings rejected the proposal out of hand, citing a lack of customer demand. This marks the third time such a proposal has been put before the general assembly at Seibu, and its third rejection.
Interestingly, the assembly covers some 47% of shareholders, but to force any major change a two fifths majority is required. However, 32% of the company is in fact owned by the giant American fund Cerberus Capital Management, and it seems the prospect of such a distant institutional investor caring what befalls Japanese commuters is rather remote…
Women only carriages have become a common feature of Japan’s rail network, ostensibly to protect women from groping in regular carriages, but their advent has done little to either discourage actual gropers from their at times highly organised criminal antics in regular carriages or to deal with what has been described as a reign of terror, where female accusations can see male commuters convicted without no more evidence than the testimony of the accuser.
False accusations of groping made against men on crowded Japanese trains have become commonplace, whether due to mistakes, malice, paranoia or even widely publicised organised extortion rackets, and it is usually a case of the man’s word against that of the woman.
Typically, such cases end with the conviction of the man, with the only hope of leniency being a confession in the hopes of persuading the implacable courts of the remorsefulness of the “offender.”
However, in recent years a number of high profile cases of defendants being acquitted have come about, affirming the perception that a potentially huge miscarriage of justice is being perpetrated on the nation’s trains.
Another less widely discussed aspect of woman only carriages is that they are often far less crowded than mixed carriages, which seems to represent a case of men (or women travellers not using the carriages) unfairly being forced into subsidising the relative comfort of those who are able to use them.
Providing an equal number of carriages for men would likely be difficult for train operators to stomach economically with this passenger density, unless it involved female passengers being packed into their carriages in the same fashion as mixed carriages, which might rather dent their popularity…
Those looking to avoid being falsely accused will have to rely on keeping their hands over their heads for the forseeable future; more ways of avoiding false arrest on the nation’s trains can be read in the instructive article on the subject.