Japan is very proud of its trains, and in many ways rightly so. The country has one of the cleanest, most reliable and most comfortable rail networks in the world. But it’s not perfect, and the worst part of train travel in Japan is the possibility of encountering a chikan, or groper, on board. Rail operators have tried various measures to try to prevent disruptions, but the actions of a single rail worker East Japan Railway Company has drawn criticism after a video taken at Shinjuku station in central Tokyo in late August went viral.
The video shows a station worker on the platform of the Saikyo Line, which connects Tokyo with Saitama Prefecture, its neighbor to the north. Standing in front of the departing northbound train, the worker, holding a handheld microphone and speaking over the public address system, says, “We have installed many security cameras, but there are many gropers. Passengers who do not want to be groped, please use the rear cars».
The unfortunate words that caused the outrage in comment forums were as follows:
- «Should we assume that they are going to touch us if we get in the cars ahead? Instead of trying to change the victims, try to change the attackers».
- «Is there a woman who does not want to be groped?».
- «Companies and society should show the position that ‘treatment is unacceptable».
- «I want them to change to a notice that clearly states that groping is a crime.».
- «We don’t need to ask victims to defend themselves! What we need to do is make the grocers feel guilty».
So why did the clerk advise passengers who “don’t want to be groped” to use the rear cars? In the evening rush hour when the video was shot, the front carriages on the northbound Saikyo Line are often the busiest, as many stations on the line have exit stairs at the north end of the platform, which is the most it is comfortable for passengers. to leave the station after quitting. Since chikans are more likely to hit in crowded cars, the recommendation to use the rear cars makes statistical sense.
However, almost everyone seems to agree on one thing that there were better phrases to use than “people who don’t want to be groped.”and to avoid accusations of insensitivity due to a possible interpretation of “If you are riding in the front cars, I think you don’t mind being groped.“. In the video, the station worker making the announcement does not appear to be particularly used to speaking to a crowd, pausing and pausing as he speaks, handing over the task to a more polished speaker, and/or providing probably a better prepared statement. JR East saved some headaches to begin with.
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