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Men In Japan Think There Should Be Men-Only Trains So Women Can't Accuse Them Of Sexual Assault

Japanese Twitter trolls have kickstarted a massive debate about rape culture on public transportation after two men died trying to run from authorities after being accused of molesting women on trains.

Posted on June 2, 2017, at 8:37 a.m. ET

Earlier this month, a man was killed at Aobadai Station in Yokohama, Japan. He was accused of molesting a woman.

The female passenger told station workers that she "felt something strange around the right side of the waist" while she was on the train. The man behind her apologized and then attempted to run off. The woman said another male passenger tried to hold him down until he could be questioned by station staff, but the first man suddenly broke free and rushed on to the track where he was then struck by an oncoming train. He was later confirmed dead at the hospital.His death is the most recent in a series of incidents that have touched off a massive debate about rape culture in Japan.
Yuya Shino / Reuters

The female passenger told station workers that she "felt something strange around the right side of the waist" while she was on the train. The man behind her apologized and then attempted to run off. The woman said another male passenger tried to hold him down until he could be questioned by station staff, but the first man suddenly broke free and rushed on to the track where he was then struck by an oncoming train. He was later confirmed dead at the hospital.

His death is the most recent in a series of incidents that have touched off a massive debate about rape culture in Japan.

The man in Yokohama is one of two who died last month while running from train stations after being accused of molesting women on public transportation.

Just a few days before the incident at Aobadai Station, a man died after being accused of trying to hold a woman's hand while riding the train in Tokyo. The female passenger reported him to authorities. While the man was being questioned at Ueno Station, he escaped and allegedly fell to his death from a building 200 meters away from the station, a police spokesperson told the Asahi Shimbun.There have been six cases of men attempting to run away from train stations in Tokyo after being accused of molestation since mid-March.
Yuya Shino / Reuters

Just a few days before the incident at Aobadai Station, a man died after being accused of trying to hold a woman's hand while riding the train in Tokyo. The female passenger reported him to authorities. While the man was being questioned at Ueno Station, he escaped and allegedly fell to his death from a building 200 meters away from the station, a police spokesperson told the Asahi Shimbun.

There have been six cases of men attempting to run away from train stations in Tokyo after being accused of molestation since mid-March.

Sexual harassment and assault on public transportation has been an issue in Japan for decades now.

According to the White Paper on Crime issued by the Ministry of Justice, in 2014, there were 3,439 arrests on allegations of molestation — unwanted sexual touching — under the Anti-Nuisance Ordinance and 283 arrests under Japan's anti–sex crime laws.

In recent years, railway and subway companies in Japan have introduced women-only carriages in an attempt to curb sexual assaults on public transportation.

The carriages were first implemented in Tokyo in 2001 to "prevent women from molesters and drunk, male passengers on crowded night trains."

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism has described the carriages as a "transportation service implemented by railway companies as part of consideration for women."

Women-only carriages have since spread across Japan, mostly operating during morning rush hours.

The threats still exist for women on trains, however. One high school student recently suggested badges with anti-molestation slogans.

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In November 2015, Yayoi Matsunaga learned that her friend's 15-year-old daughter was being regularly molested on her way to school.

The high school student and her mother initially came up with a laminated card that read "I won't cry myself to sleep. Molesting is a crime," which stopped molesters from approaching her.

Matsunaga helped the pair organize a crowdfunding project, and she suggested creating badges instead so that girls and women could use them in public more conveniently.

Very few victims publicly come forward, but Tamaka Ogawa, a writer and cofounder of digital content production company Press Labo, told Al Jazeera, "When I was in high school, every [girl] was a victim. [We] didn't think we could do anything about it."

The two recent deaths, however, have prompted a large number of Twitter trolls to suggest that there actually need to be men-only train carriages.

@HP40298 @aua00 どうして誤解されたくない紳士たちのための「男性専用車両」がないのだろうかかか

"Why isn't there a men-only carriage for gentlemen who don't want to be misunderstood?"

男性の痴漢冤罪恐怖はピークに達していて、このままでは日本の生産性に深刻なダメージを与えかねないので、鉄道会社は早急に男性専用車両を導入すべき。やる前から否定的なことを言ってる人がいるけど、取り敢えず男性の恐怖を和らげて、運行の仕方についてはデータを撮りながら試行錯誤してみれば?

"A fear of false accusations for men is reaching its peak; if this continues, it's going to gravely damage Japan's productivity. Railway companies should implement men-only carriages as soon as possible. There are people who have negative opinions on this before we even try; but why don't we ease men's fear first, and then take data so that we can focus on operational issues through trial and error?"

こうなってくると女性専用車両って謎だよな。「男から、痴漢から、女性を守る車両です」じゃないよ。男性専用車両があるべきだろ。「冤罪から、全ての男性を、働くお父さんを守る車両です」の方が納得するわ。

"Given the situation, carriages for women only are puzzling. 'Carriages that protect women from men and molesters.' That's not the point. There should be carriages specifically for men. 'Carriages that protect all men and working dads from false accusations.' That would make more sense."

Some of those calling for men-only train carriages say the problem is that women are making false charges against innocent men.

痴漢冤罪といったらこの漫画が思い浮かぶ

"Talking of false accusations, it reminds me of this manga."

The above tweet shows several excerpts from Shiranēshi, an adult fanzine comic about men "executing women in retribution for their crimes of false accusations."

A high school student in the manga attempts to falsely accuse a man of molesting her on a train to "see a man cry himself into sleep or extort money from him, for fun." However, she gets surrounded by all the men she has made false accusations about in the past; one of the men punches the student in her face as revenge.

People have commented on this tweet, some saying that the manga is "very refreshing" and that "women who've done the same should really, seriously, go through this experience."

It's been retweeted 24,000 times in the two weeks since the man died at Aobadai Station.

It's part of a larger narrative in which men — even if innocent — are at a great disadvantage when they are suspected of sexual assault.

Many say they fear that they will automatically be arrested once they are taken into the train station office to be questioned.

Under the Japanese criminal justice system, the conviction rate of a person under indictment is more than 99%, and acquittal is rare.

This fear of false accusations has led to the rise of an insurance plan that allows you to report your situation and call a partnered lawyer across the country via your smartphone when you are suspected of molestation. Up until last month, only a dozen or so men were joining this plan each month, but in May, it increased to hundreds.

One Twitter user took a photo of a badge that he made that reads, "I will beat anybody who falsely accuses me. If I die, we must die together."

左:女子高生考案『痴漢防止バッジ』 右:僕考案『痴漢冤罪防止バッジ』

"Left: 'Molesting prevention badge' that a high school girl came up with.

"Right: 'False accusations on molesting prevention badge' that I came up with."

どっかの誰かが、 「痴漢の冤罪を絶対に回避する方法は訴えた女の乳を揉むことだ」 って言ってた。 確に。 お乳を好き放題したら有罪だ。 したがって冤罪ではない。 これ言った人、天才なのかおばかさんなのか…。

"Someone once said that 'If a woman falsely accuses you for train molesting and you want to completely avoid it, knead her boobs.' That's true. If we do whatever we like with the boobs, then we'll be found guilty. Therefore, it won't be a false accusation. I wonder if this someone is a genius or silly..."

「髪の毛の匂いを嗅いだだけでも痴漢」とか言ってる女、カレー屋から漂ってくる匂いを嗅いで「んー、いい匂い!」とか言ってるところを「今カレーの匂いを嗅いだ?はい無銭飲食ね」とかいって逮捕されてほしい

"To those women who say that even 'smelling their hair is considered molesting,' I hope they get arrested when they smell curry in front of a restaurant and say 'It smells good!' Because that's skipping out on a restaurant bill."

Some trolls have suggested there should be a molestation train.

痴漢冤罪が話題になってますが ・「男性専用車両を作る」 これは色んな方々が言ってますね。 更にもう一つ。 ・「痴漢専用車両を作る」 これを作れば、痴漢したい男性と痴漢されたい女性が乗るので、とてもwinwinな関係になると思うんですよ。 既出だったらすみません。

"False accusations of molesting has been a hot topic. 'Create cars for men only.' A lot of people have mentioned this. But there's one more: 'Place cars specifically for molesting on trains.' I think this will be a win-win situation for men who want to molest and women who want to be molested."

But it’s not all trolls driving this debate. People have come forward recently to say the underlying problem is not the victims of sexual assault nor women making false accusations, but the men who are assaulting people and the doubts cast on women who file complaints.

女はたとえ痴漢されても、「痴漢です!」って叫べば「冤罪で社会的に殺す気だな?!」「でっちあげだ!」「殺せ!」となるのがわかっているので、ほとんどの場合泣き寝入りしている。泣き寝入りした上、悪いのは痴漢でも司法でもなく「女」であると憎悪を向けられる。痴漢にとっては天国だよな。

"Women cry themselves to sleep, because they know that even if they're actually molested and shout that someone molested them, the responses would be: 'You're trying to socially kill me with false accusations.' 'That's a fake accusation!' 'Kill her!' Not only do they cry themselves to sleep, they also become the target of hatred. The blame is put not on molesters or the judicial system, but on women. It must be a paradise for molesters."

ネットを見ていると暗に「女どもは明確な証拠を提示できない限り、痴漢被害にあったと思っても黙ってろ!」と言っている人をかなり見かけましたけどね。正に日本で性犯罪の被害を女性が訴えられないように、黙らせるようにという抑圧がそのまま現われていて戦慄します。

"When I looked online, I saw a lot of people who implicitly said 'Unless they can show clear evidence, women should shut up even if they think they've been molested!' I am trembling with fear at how there's an apparent pressure to make them silent, just like how women actually can't bring complaints about sex crimes."

いじめ被害に遭った人間が勇気を振り絞って先生に訴えたときに 「キミの方にも問題があるんじゃないの?」と返されたときの絶望感や苦しみや怒り。 それを経験しているなら、痴漢被害、痴漢冤罪という不毛な対立は実際の被害者にとって何の益もないってわかるはずなんだ。

"The pain and anger you get when you've been bullied and use your courage to tell a teacher, only to be told that 'You must have some problems as well.' If you have ever experienced it, then you should know that this useless conflict between victims of train molesting and false accusation does not help the actual victims at all."

It's also inspired a few men to come forward and speak openly about their own personal experiences of being molested on trains.

僕は痴漢に遭遇した後、渋谷駅で降りて駅員室に駆け込んだけど、ホームの途中まで付いてこられた時には本当に殺し屋に追われているような心境だった。男の僕がアレだけ怖いんだから、小柄で力のない女性なんか僕とは比にならない怖さだと思う。だから、痴漢に対して声を挙げた女性の勇気には感服する。

"...As a man who have been molested, we seriously shouldn't lightly say 'but it was just touching.' I am 180cm tall and a large guy, but I was scared to death when a middle-aged man in his fifties touched my crotch on a crowded train on the Yamanote Line. It still makes me want to cry when I recall the experience.

"After I was molested, I got off at Shibuya Station and rushed to the station office, but it felt like I was being chased by a sniper when he followed me halfway down the platform. It was that scary for me, a man. So women who are small and powerless must be facing incomparable fear. That's why I admire the courage that women have to speak up against molesting."

It's not just Twitter users who are concerned with the culture of sexual assault on Japanese public transportation. BuzzFeed News spoke with commuters at Shibuya Station who seemed divided about how to address the problem.

Mana and Yui, 14-year-old middle school students from Yokohama, told BuzzFeed News that carriages should be segregated completely .

"I think carriages should be separated, because we really need women-only carriages," Mana said. "My friend was molested in the past, and she said that she was scared. I also get scared when I get on a crowded train."

Yui said she feels uncomfortable wearing short pants during summer. "There were times when I was stared at a lot. That was scary," she said.

Yuki Kamata, a 21-year-old student from Osaka, told BuzzFeed News he doesn't completely disagree with having men-only carriages, but also feels like these carriages shouldn't have to exist in the first place.

"It solves false accusations, but I think the problem lies in molesting," he said. "It all depends on how much people are aware of this issue."

Kamata said that he worries about being falsely accused when he gets on trains.

"When I have my hands down and there are women in front of me or beside me, I sometimes feel that I'm in a risky situation. So I either put my hands up or cross my arms. I see a lot of men doing the same thing. I think it's problematic that Japan's allowing this kind of situation to happen."

He also said that he had been molested in the past.

"I was standing in a packed train in Osaka, and I felt a hand touching my private parts. It happened again and again, so I looked up to see who was touching. My eyes met with the person behind me, and that's when I thought, 'Oh, I'm being molested,'" Kamata said. "I didn't go to the police or tell anyone because I was afraid — I didn't want to see that person's face ever again — and I felt I needed to handle this on my own."

Mr. Fukuda, a 69-year-old retired man living in Tokyo, told BuzzFeed News that he avoids getting on crowded trains during rush hours, because he does not want to be suspected of train molesting, which he said almost happened to him twice in the past.

"One time it happened when the tip of my shoe touched another woman's shoe. Another time was when I was standing behind an elementary student. She thought I was pressing against her, so she kept on shoving me back; but we were on a crowded train," he said. "I don't think men-only carriages are necessary. We simply shouldn't molest, right?"

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