There’s no denying that Japan is a beautiful country that offers breathtaking views, delicious food, and vibrant culture.
However, chikan crime is a big issue in Japan and is often committed on public transport during rush hours.
This kind of sexual assault isn’t discussed often, leaving many unaware that it’s happening. If you’re unsure what chikan is, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll go over what this is and how people fall victim to this crime.
Keep reading to learn more.
What is Chikan?
Let’s start by answering the question, “What is chikan?”.
This Japanese word is used for molesters that sexually harass men or women in public spaces. They do this by showing their private parts to nearby individuals or inappropriately touching the person’s body.
These disturbing acts typically occur in public places, specifically trains. Chikan crime is so common that you’ll now see references to this act in Japanese movies or anime.
It’s essential to be aware of chikan crime and report it as soon you see it. Besides busy trains during rush hours, common places where chikan is committed include bicycle lots, quiet parks, or isolated paths.
Because these areas are typically less busy than trains, molesters will assault another individual during nighttime hours as there aren’t as many people around.
However, most of these acts are actually happening on trains.
Chikan Crimes in Trains
It’s worth noting that Japan is a country where people usually take the train not only to move across the city but from one city to the next.
Trains are mostly located in the country’s biggest cities: Kobe, Osaka, Saitama, Kanagawa, and Tokyo.
Unfortunately, most trains across the country are overcrowded, especially during rush hours. This has been a common complaint among Japanese residents that’s been left unaddressed.
Even more unfortunate, these rush hours and overly crowded trains have paved the way for chikan crime.
Molesters will take advantage of these areas being extremely packed to touch another person inappropriately.
These acts are done so suddenly and in crowded spaces that victims don’t have time to respond and pinpoint their aggressor.
Statistics, Surveys, & Findings
Reports have shown that some of the highest Chikan molestation rates occur in the Saikyo line in the city of Saitama – part of the Greater Tokyo area. Other surveys have shown that trains in Japan surpass their maximum capacity during rush hours.
The survey showed that trains are filled to 150 percent of their total capacity in the capital city during rush hours. In Kobe, the numbers sit at 130 percent of maximum capacity, whereas trains are typically at 120 percent of their full capacity in Osaka.
Unfortunately, while many people have complained about this problem over the last few years, little has been done to solve the problem.
This has been quite uncomfortable since it’s common to watch people pushing each other to desperately enter the train compartment, just like it happens in some of the biggest cities around the world.
There are moments when the amount of people at the train station is so overwhelming that station workers have to help them get into the train compartment by pushing commuters inside so the doors can properly close.
Unfortunately, this is the perfect environment for molesters since passengers have no room to move freely inside the train.
How Are Chikan Molesters Committing & Getting Away With These Crimes?
The Osaka police department has explained that these criminals look for specific areas on trains to sit in. They know precisely where to sit and how to act normally.
They find a location with a slight possibility of getting detected by the victim. Keep in mind that in such packed quarters during rush hour, it becomes almost impossible to pinpoint who the aggressor is.
Chikan molesters are typically people who wander around in certain train stations. They utilize this time to determine the perfect moment to attack and the right location.
Many of them choose to commit these acts at corners. This means their victim won’t be able to escape. They’ll feel trapped with limited options of where to go.
Corners are also areas other passengers don’t pay much attention to, meaning the chances of someone else witnessing what’s happening becomes unlikely.
Chikan is truly sickening, and police are doing their best to stop these criminals in their tracks. Again, considering the circumstances, it’s becoming tough, and chikan crimes continue to increase.
It’s advised that, if possible, individuals on trains should position themselves in an open area. They should stand in front of passenger seats; this way, if something happens, there will be witnesses.
Once more, though, because of the crowded areas during rush hours, it’s much too easy for chikan criminals to get away with this perverse act.
Who’s Most At Risk To Be a Victim of a Chikan Crime?
Most of the time, Chikan molesters find their victims on the platform in the station while waiting for the train.
They typically look for vulnerable females, but often the victims are men. They go for anyone that seems quiet and unlikely to cause a scene on the train. Sadly, students are also seen as easy targets. Many get to school by train, and some are too young to comprehend what’s happening.
Others are too scared to seek help from other passengers or tell their parents what happened.
When they find their victim, they stay next to them and proceed to follow until they get onto the train. Once both are on the train and the molester has found the right spot and time, they assault their victims.
There have been several cases where criminals touch the target no matter where they are, prompting people to react. Chikan criminals really go to desperate lengths when they’ve found a victim they want to molest.
Often, even when there are witnesses, they choose to stay quiet or pretend they didn’t see anything in hopes of staying hidden from the aggressor.
This is unfortunate because it’s fueling chikan criminals to continue their attacks.
What Might These Criminals Do To You?
There are several perverse things these criminals do to their victims.
Here’s a list of common actions:
- They may inappropriately touch your body
- They may grab your hand and place it on their private parts
- They may take pictures up your skirt with their cell phones
- They may pretend to be asleep but molest you while you aren’t looking
- They may show you an inappropriate picture
- They may whisper obscene words into your ear
- They may cut your clothing with scissors, undo your shirt’s buttons, or undo the bra hook
These are only some of the actions reported by victims. They may choose to molest their victims in other ways, so always be on the lookout and careful.
Sadly, these criminal acts are so ordinary in Japan because the women (or men) that get assaulted are often too embarrassed to speak up.
Even if they somehow manage to accuse the criminal on the train, someone next to them claims they know them and would never do such a thing.
In the case of young children, they’re absolutely terrified to say anything. This causes them to put up with the harassment, making them vulnerable targets.
What Are Train Companies In Japan Doing Against the Chikan Problem?
It’s worth noting that most chikan criminals are Japanese men, and most victims are Japanese women. Given the situation, train companies and Japanese authorities have decided to create women-only stations.
Some train companies offer women-only transport solely during rush hours. There are also posters placed on train station walls warning against these attacks and encouraging victims to speak up. After all, chikan is a crime and should be treated as one.
While there have been some improvements, there is still a long way to go.
What To Do If You’re Being Harassed?
While we hope this is never the case, you need to know how to react if a chikan criminal ever assaults you. The best thing to do is to tell them to stop touching your body loudly. Ask other passengers for help or call for help.
If speaking up isn’t something you feel comfortable doing, here are some suggestions to prevent being a victim of this crime:
- Use women-only transit
- Try not to wear clothing that’s too thin that can easily be cut
- Avoid wearing clothing that’s too tight or shows your skin
- Don’t commute on the same route/same time every day
- Carry around a security buzzer
Note: It’s common for these criminals to return to the same targets because they know their victim’s schedules.
For this reason, it’s essential to switch up your route and time every so often to avoid potential sexual harassment. And, as mentioned, stand up for yourself to prevent them from striking again.
We hope these acts aren’t ever something you have to experience. However, it is important to understand that they are happening and to be well prepared in the event it happens to you.