CHILD PORNOGRAPHY IN JAPAN
Lolicon Japan is regarded as a major international distribution point for child pornography. Child pornography is widely available at Japanese sex shops and border-line material is sold at supermarkets and convenience stores. Mangas (comic books) depicting brutal sex with children are also common.
There are several overlapping branches of child porn produced in Japan: lilicon prepubescent girls, shojo-ai (girls seven to 20); shotocom ( little boys); and pico (little boys that look like girls). “Roricon” is short for “Lolita complex.” At convenience stores you can find porn magazines that boast” “Our Cover Girl Is Our Youngest Yet: 14!” Teenage sex workers are visible in the Kabukicho entertainment district in Tokyo. There are stores there that specialize in selling underwear of teenage strippers.
Hiroko Tabuchi wrote in New York Times: “Japan, which has long been relatively tolerant of the open sale and consumption of sexually oriented material, lately has developed a brisk trade in works that in many other countries might be considered child pornography. In a widely available and popular DVD, a real-life Japanese model poses in a tiny white bikini. She makes popcorn in a maid’s costume. She plays with a beach ball while being hosed down with water. The model, Akari Iinuma, is 13 years old.[Source: Hiroko Tabuchi, New York Times, February 9, 2011]
“I loved the white bikini,” Iinuma told the adult male fans who turned out at the Sofmap electronics store in Tokyo for an event to promote the release of her second DVD, “Developing Now.” It is a plotless 70 minutes of Ms. Iinuma in various costumes and poses. At the gathering, Tabuchi wrote, Ms. Iinuma performed a short dance, spoke about the video shoot, then posed as men approached her to snap photos, while her mother looked on from the back of the room. [Ibid]
“Provocative depictions of young girls — referred to as “junior idols”— is are prevalent in magazines, DVDs and Web videos,” Tabuchi wrote. “Junior idol photo books and DVDs are widely available on Web sites like Amazon’s site in Japan and in specialized bookstores. At least eight magazines are devoted to such photos, including Sho-Bo, which features girls of elementary school age. Models who pose in the pictures are paid about 200,000 yen ($2,400) a shoot, often dream of careers in acting or music, industry insiders say.” [Ibid]
In the 1990s Japan was regarded as the source of 80 percent of the world's child porn. Today it has the third most child porn sites afer the United States and Russia.
A survey in 1999, found 3,000 Japan-based websites distributed pornography, 40 percent of them featuring children. One specializing in "lolitas," show naked schoolgirls who could be bound and gagged with click of a mouse. There are also sites with names like “Little Sister” that feature very young girls in scanty clothing or bikinis in suggestive poses, One that charges members ¥3,000 a month shows a 10-year-old girl changing into a bikini on a bed and 7-year-old girls jumping over a vaulting horse in school swim wear.
Japanese child pornography is widely disseminated and consumed not only in Japan but abroad. The yakuza is reportedly heavily involved in producing it.
Many girls have been offered money to have sex or be photographed in the nude. In some districts of Tokyo male “scouts” prowl the streets trying to encourage young girls into clubs that advertise "Let's enjoy play with sexy girls." One 14-year-old girl told Time, "Usually I say no. But if he gives me 80,000 yen [$675] I'll do it."
Hiromasa Nakai, a spokesman for the Japan Committee for UNICEF, told the New York Times that the abundance of child pornography in Japan made it even easier for those who would normally not be considered as having clinical pedophilia, a psychiatric disorder characterized by a sexual obsession with young children, to develop a sexual interest in children. “To a degree, it has become socially accepted to lust over young girls in Japan,” Mr. Nakai said. “Condoning these works has meant more people have access to them and develop an interest in young girls.” [Source: Hiroko Tabuchi, New York Times, February 9, 2011]
Pornography and Subway Groping Pornography, Rape and Sex Crimes in Japan from the Pacific Center of Sex and Society at the University of Hawaii hawaii.edu/PCSS ; Wikipedia article on Pornography in Japan Wikipedia ; Economist Article on Child Pornography in Japan economist.com ; Time Magazine on Elder Porn in Japan time.com ; Subway Groping Video clipser.com ; Subway Groping japanfortheuninvited.com
Links in this Website: SEX IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; PROSTITUTES, SEX CLUBS AND SEX INDUSTRY IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; HOSTESSES, HOSTS AND STRIPTEASE IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; SEX, CHILDREN, TEACHERS AND SUBWAYS IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; SEX, DATING CLUBS AND SCHOOLGIRLS IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; HOMOSEXUALITY IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan
Laws and Campaigns Against Child Pornography in Japan
NekoXzit Japan has been criticized by the international community for being a major production center for “child pornography” and having laws against child pornography are either weak, unenforced or non-existent. Some of the laws that exist have no punitive measures. Among the Group of Eight nations only Japan and Russia lack outright bans in child pornography.
A law addressing child prostitution and child pornography was not passed until 1999. Before then taking lewd photographs with naked children was permissible in Japan. Current laws do not prohibit the possession by individuals of pornographic images featuring children as long as they do not intend to distribute them. Under these laws it is difficult to prevent production of child porn. Laws that define child pornography as “the stimulation of sexual desire via the depiction of a naked or partially clothed child” are of little use because the “the stimulation of sexual desire” is difficult to prove and the penalties are minimal anyway. There has been some discussion of banning possession of child pornography and go after people who make child pornography websites using child welfare laws.
In a conference on child pornography a letter was read that written by a university student who was photographed having sex as a child. “My picture continues to appear in the Internet,” she wrote. “Even as I grow older, I can’t fall in love with anyone or get married, or have a child...as long as the picture exists,”
Campaigns against pornography have been stymied by concerns about violations of freedom of expression and privacy rights and worries that it would waste the time of police who could be investigating more serious crimes. U.S. officials have repeatedly asked Japanese for their help in fighting child pornography but the Japanese police refuse to share information.
For major Japanese service providers—@nifty, OCN, Biglobe and Son-net, managed by subsidiaries of Fujitsu, NTT, NEC and Sony respectively—said they would stop providing fee-based service that allow customers to access websites featuring photographs of very young Japanese girls dressed in swimsuits and adopting sexually-suggestive poses.
In February 2010, the Japanese government formed a special team to fight child porn and eyed blocking Internet access to child pron sites and other measures.
Hiroko Tabuchi wrote in the New York Times, “Legal experts say that Japan’s laws against child pornography are lax by international standards. Japan has banned the production or distribution of any sexually explicit, nude images of minors since 1999, when Parliament passed a law in response to international criticism of the wide availability of such works in the country. But even now, unlike the United States and most European countries, Japan does not ban the possession of child pornography.” [Source: Hiroko Tabuchi, New York Times, February 9, 2011]
“But at least the 1999 law helped stamp out a formerly popular genre of photo books depicting nude under-age girls. One of the genre’s best-selling books, published in 1991, featured nude photos of the actress Rie Miyazawa, who was not yet 18 at the time of the photo shoot. In recent years books and videos have emerged that sidestep the law by featuring girls, some as young as age 6, posing in swimsuits that stop short of full nudity.” [Ibid]
“There have been earlier moves to regulate pedophilic material in Japan, especially after the murders of four little girls in 1988-89 by a man police described as a pedophile. The case spurred local governments across Japan to adopt ordinances setting some limits to sales of pedophilic works, including a loose ratings system for explicit manga books imposed by the publishers themselves, and also set the stage for the 1999 anti-child pornography law. Already the Tokyo government checks for “unwholesome” manga publications and can order publishers to label them as for adults only. But supporters of more regulation say those efforts have been sporadic.” [Ibid]
“We believe that when the rights of adults or businesses violate children’s rights, children must come first,” Tamae Shintani, head of Tokyo’s parent-teacher association for elementary schools, told the New York Times. “But we also respect free speech, so the least we can ask is people keep their fetishes under wraps.” [Ibid]
Crackdowns on Child Pornography in Japan
Lolicon Akibachan Child pornography is increasing being viewed as a serious problem in Japan. Shihoko Fujiwara, representative of Polaris Project Japan, a nonprofit organization that provides support to children and women who are victims of sexual abuse and trafficking, told the Yomiuri Shimbun, the of child pornography and child prostitution cases detected in Japan exceeds 5,000 annually, and the number is rising year by year. "One of the reasons for the increase,” she said, “is that a growing number of children have become involved in the business through the widespread use of the Internet.” [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, December 27, 2010]
Fujiwara described a 14-year-old second-year female middle school student who was forced to sell sexual services by her classmates and the scene was filmed by male customers. The student, who attended a public high school, sold a nude image of herself through an Internet message board to raise money to go to university, as she was unable to depend on her parents financially. She contacted Polaris after a man who purchased the image threatened to meet her in person and another demanded she send more images. [Ibid]
Fujiwara told the Yomiuri Shimbun, "Recent child pornography trends show a preference for more extreme depictions and lower ages to sell at high prices." She warned that today's Internet society has created an environment in which children can too easily meet their victimizers. "I'd like children and parents to be aware of the danger of cell phones, which have the potential of being used as a weapon," she said. [Ibid]
Kazuo Takeuchi, a teacher's consultant at the Neyagawa city board of education in Osaka Prefecture, told the Yomiuri Shimbun, it was easy for children to earn money from Internet porn and parents and teachers know very little about it. "There's a Web site on which female students can sell their nude photos taken with their own cell phones,” he said. “Pictures taken according to buyers' personalized requests are sold for higher prices."
The National Police Agency said it handled 676 child porn cases in 2008. Among the cases were 387 incidents of taking obscene photos of minors, 129 cases of providing images containing child porn and 97 cases of possessions of such images with intent to distribute them. Among the victims were 151 high school students, 134 middle school students ad 34 primary school students.
In November 2008, three men—company employees in their 20s and 30s—were arrested by police in Saitama Prefecture for spreading child porn on the Internet using file-sharing software. It was the first case of police in Japan making an arrest over child pornography using such methods. More than 2,000 child porn videos were found in the computers and other devices possessed by the men. The investigation that led to the arrests was launched after complaints were filed from Brazil of child porn images being transmitted from 20 locations in Japan.
Police investigated 935 cases of child pornography in 2009, more than five times the number in 2004. A survey by the National Police Agency also found the age of victims was getting younger, with about 16 percent of them being primary school age or younger. A total of 439 of the cases involved the production of child porn such as videos.
In January 2010, ten mothers, lured by promises of big money, were arrested or detained for selling naked photographs of their own daughters to pedophiles. One 21-year-old housewife from Miyagai Prefecture sold nude pictures of her one-year-old daughter through a broker she came in contact with when she tried to sell her used panties on a cell phone site.
In April 2010, four people, including three teenagers, were arrested for operating a site that sold DVDs of nude boys that earned million of yen a year. The boys featured in the DVDs were of primary to high school age, with some engaging in lewd acts.
The Yomiuri Shimbun reported: Police discovered 1,455 cases of child pornography in 2011, up 8.4 percent from the previous year and the highest number since statistics were first compiled in 2000, according to the National Police Agency. The number of children whose pornographic images were posted on the Internet came to a record 638. Of them, 105 children, or about 16 percent, were primary school students or younger. [Source: February 17, 2012]
Campaign Against Child Pornography in Japan
In April 2011, major Internet service providers began blocking access to websites that offer child pornography. The blocking began after the government’s crime countermeasures conference concluded that "blocking access to child pornography can be done under the current law if certain conditions are met."
In May 2010, the Japanese government had asked Internet providers to block child porn sites. In July it announced a plan to introduce a system to block child porn sites. The plan included pleas to the public to report child porn to the police and measures to enable the government to block images from being distributed and viewed. The government is also working on early detection and support for child victims.
The group in charge with implementing the system has had trouble hammering out the details of how the program would work. Some want to block sites even if they have only one example of child porn. Others are worried more about privacy and freedom of expression issues.
Child Porn Continues to Thrive on the Internet in Japan Despite Efforts to Curb It
In June 2012, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported: “Websites selling child pornography DVDs continue to operate despite the launch in April last year of a content blocking system to fight them. The illicit sites have exploited a loophole in the system to give their customers easy access. Users can easily access a blocked site by simply typing the site's Internet protocol (IP) address, which usually consists of a series of numbers (such as 123.234.xxx.xxx) instead of a URL (such as xxx.co.jp) directly in the browser's address bar. [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, June 28, 2012]
“Police recently discovered one such site that carries pictures of naked girls together with descriptions of their ages, such as "9 years old" and "11 years old." The site sells DVDs that appear to contain child pornography at 650 yen each, including "famous" titles that the police cracked down on nationwide in the past. The site boasts, "We have all the titles you want." According to police, the operator of this site is a group based in the Tokyo metropolitan area that has been selling illegal DVDs for several years. It established dozens of new sites after the launch of the site blocking system in 2011, seemingly undisturbed by the measure. These websites can be accessed because of a technical loophole--the direct typing of IP addresses. [Ibid]
“An IP address is allocated to every website on the Internet. However, URLs are more widely used as Internet users find them easier to work with. The Internet Content Safety Association, which decides sites to be targeted for the content blocking, only made a list of URLs, but not a list of IP addresses. The practice inadvertently allows easy access to the blocked sites by using IPs instead of URLs. Operators of illegal sites prepare websites carrying images such as models in swimsuits, which are not child pornography. After they receive accesses from potential clients, the operators send them the IP addresses of the illegal sites through means such as e-mail to lure them to the illicit pornography sites. [Ibid]
“Police plan to launch an intensive campaign to crack down on websites that sell illegal DVDs on suspicion of violating the law against activities relating to child prostitution and child pornography. Access blocking systems designed to prevent the proliferation of child pornography have been employed in European countries, such as Norway and Britain, since around 2004. The Japanese system was launched in April 2011. As of November, 170 URLs and 19 domains were registered as "illegal sites." However, lists of the corresponding IP addresses have not been compiled. [Ibid]
“According to a survey conducted from October to December last year by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, Norway introduced a blocking system similar to that of Japan, while Britain blocks questionable sites using both URLs and IP addresses. "We are aware that the direct typing of IP addresses is rampant, and we are trying to address the problem as soon as possible," said an official of Yahoo Japan, which serves as the secretariat of the ICSA. [Ibid]
Japanese Man Arrested in the U.S. over Child Porn
In July 2012, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported: “The U.S. Homeland Security Department has arrested a Japanese man who allegedly managed child porn sites in the United States on suspicion of violating a federal law that prohibits advertisement and possession of child pornography, according to investigative sources. The arrest of Kimihiko Makino, 38, a company executive from Toshima Ward, Tokyo, came after the Metropolitan Police Department arrested several members of a group that allegedly sold child porn DVDs on the websites it operates. The arrest in the United States was made based on information provided by Japanese investigation authorities; such collaboration is rare for arrests involving multiple members of the same group. [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, July 19, 2012]
“According to information the MPD received from the United States, the Homeland Security Department arrested Makino in San Francisco on July 6 on suspicion of carrying Internet advertisements for child porn DVDs. Makino allegedly managed child porn websites, and many child porn images remained on the servers, sources said, adding that he has already been indicted. The MPD, during its initial investigations into the group, concluded that it was operating child porn websites using more than 10 rented servers in the United States. The MPD provided information to U.S. authorities through the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. [Ibid]
“The MPD also learned that Makino, who travels between Japan and the United States several times a year, managed the websites. On July 2, police arrested six people, including Yoshiyuki Hayashi, 48, in Japan on suspicion of violating the law prohibiting child prostitution and child pornography, for counts including provision of child pornography. On the following day, two more members of the group were arrested. At the time of these arrests, Makino was in the United States. Once informed of that fact by the MPD, the Homeland Security Department arrested Makino, sources said. [Ibid]
“To get around the blocking of URL addresses, the group applied the so-called IP "jikauchi" manual input method of changing URL addresses to IP addresses, which consist entirely of a string of numbers. This allows users to access child porn online through banner ads and other means. Pornography of kindergarten and primary school children that was distributed in the past was copied on DVDs using personal computers. The group allegedly took orders via e-mail and sold DVDs for 680 yen each. The annual sales exceeded 100 million yen a year, sources said. [Ibid]
“The U.S. Homeland Security Department not only collects terrorist-related information but also investigates illegal immigrants, smuggling and child pornography. The department exchanges information with Japanese authorities regarding cyber-attacks, child porn and other crimes that are international in nature. [Ibid]
Sex with Children in Japan
The rate for having sex with a 16-year-old in 1999 was around $250; for a 12-year-old, $400.
The papers are filled with sex with children stories. In March 1999, a mother was arrested for letting men have sex with her 15-year-old daughter. Around the same time another mother allowed a man to take nude photographs of her 10-year-old daughter in exchange for $850. In October 2001, a Tokyo high court judge was impeached after admitting that he paid for sex with a 14-year-old schoolgirl. A man from Kyoto was arrested for having sex with a 12-year-old in Bangkok.
The tolerance of sex with children is partly explained by the fact old men who are insensitive to women and children rule the government, some children are willing to do it, and that men feel threatened by a fully-grown women and seek sex with children.
In the late 2000s there was some outrage over a video game that featured the rape of two girls and their mother with players raping the girls, getting them pregnant and securing abortions, scoring points with each violent act committed against the females The game was developed by a Yokohama-based game software maker. International protests forced Amazon and others to stop selling the game but the game continued to be sold in Japan because sanctions placed on the game were only voluntary. A number of similar games also continue to be sold, made and developed.
Sex with Children Laws in Japan
image room schoolgirl fantasy In April 1999, a law was passed that outlawed child pornography and sex with minors. The law defined minors as being aged 17 and under and prohibited have sex with minors in return for money or goods. People charged with these crimes face a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a fine of $10,000. Before the law was passed a minor was defined as someone under 12.
Before that Tokyo and Nagoya metropolitan areas did not have laws against conceptual sex between adult men and girls under the age of 18. An effort to pass laws in 1988 were rejected on the ground that sex was a personal issue. Incest was also not considered a crime unless a complaint was filed by the child or the child's "legal representative."
In September 2009, a 14-year-old boy was charged with child prostitution after he paid $600 to have sex with a 13-year-old girl he met on an online dating service. The money came from about $1,000 the boy had saved from cash allowances he received from his parents.
Teachers and Sex in Japan
Molestation and statutory rape of children by teachers is a serious problems in Japan. In 1999, 116 teachers were disciplined for committing indecent acts on students. Of these 56 were fired and 13 were charged with crimes. In 2001, there were 122 such cases. Experts believe that vast majority of cases go unreported.
In 2002, 98 teachers were fired for obscene acts. In 2003, 155 teachers were disciplined for “indecent acts.” in 2005, 124 teachers were disciplined for sexual offenses, including child prostitution and secretly taking images of women. In 1995, only 27 teachers were disciplined for such acts.
In 1999, a 37-old teacher in Kanagawa Prefecture was charged with committing an indecent act with a middle school girl after offering her money. The same teacher operated a prostitution club with services provided by middle school girls. Around the same time a 35-year-old English teacher was dismissed after allegedly video-taping female students through a skylight in a girl’s bathroom while they changed their clothes. A 49-year-old male teacher was jailed for touching the breasts and lower body of a mentally disabled girl while she took a shower.
In 1998, a 35-year-old high school teacher was accused of taking videos under girl's skirts by standing under a staircase. In January 1999, another school teacher was arrested after he donned a wig and skirt and videoed naked girls at a hot spring resort with a hidden camera.
In June, 1995, the principal of a major college preparatory school was arrested for running a prostitution ring involving 280 girls between the ages of 14 and 17. A few months earlier a Tokyo teacher was arrested for running an introduction service using 321 high school students.
See Child Pornography Above
More on Teachers and Sex in Japan
lolita sex magazine In July 2001, a 34-year-old middle school Social Studies teacher picked up a 12-year-old girl, who he met through a telephone dating service, and handcuffed her and drove off with her in his car with the plan of having sex with her. While the car was traveling on an expressway she jumped out of the car and was hit by a truck.. She died after she bled to death on the side of the highway.
In January 2002, a Saitama teacher was arrested for paying a 13-year-old girl $380 for sex, a high-school teacher n Kagoshima prefecture was charged with “sexual conduct” with a 16-year-old student, and a Tokyo middle school teacher was sentenced to a year in prison for groping a high school girl on a bus.
In December 2003, a Board of Education senior official in Tokyo was caught trying to secretly video tape women changing in the dressing room at a hot spring resort In December 2006, a primary school teacher in Tokyo was reprimanded for running a website that showed photographs of six children that died traffic accidents and other children that been disfigured or seriously hurt in accidents. He was also charged with distributing child pornography In 2006 one teacher was charged with distributing child pornography and a principal in Saitama was arrested for groping a woman who was waiting for a taxi at a taxi stand at 1:00am. He was drunk at the time.
In October 2004, a 40-year-old junior high school teacher was sentenced to 18 months in prison for molesting two 13-year-old girls. Most of victims were students at his school. He molested them in his car or a karaoke where he would take the girls.
In September 2007, a vice principal was arrested from removing the underwear of a passed-out, drunken woman at a bar and taking photographs of her body. Another vice principal, at an elementary school, was disciplined for repeatedly molesting schoolgirls. He used the pretext of taking their measurements” so he could touch their bodies. Another primary school vice principal paid a girl to have sex and took obscene photographs of a number of women he met on the street which were published in a magazine. Yet another vice principal was sentenced to three years in jail, suspended five years, for lewd acts. He met six teenage girls through a dating service and sold lewd photographs he took of them.
Victims of Teacher Sex in Japan
Victims who attempt to come forward are often given a harder time than the perpetrators. The New York Times reported a story about a 16-year-old who was given genital herpes in 2001 by her teacher and told her parents about it. When they confronted the teacher, the teacher denied the claim and warned that if they reported him, the girl would be expelled from school. In spite of the threats the family reported the teacher to police. The teacher was fired and given a one-year prison sentence. However, the girl became an object of taunting by students at her school and teh situation got so bad her parents sent her abroad to go to school.
In February 2002, a 51-year-old teacher was fired and given a two-year prison sentence for fondling a girl in a school office. After the teacher was arrested she was ridiculed by other students and chided by her best friend for ruining the life of the teacher. The victim told Mainichi Shimbun, “When I was the supermarket, I was surrounded by some senior students I had never spoken to before. They shouted, ‘That’s the sexually harassed!’ and laughed at me.”
In October 2004, a 40-year-old junior high school teacher was sentenced to 18 months in prison for molesting two 13-year-old girls. Most of victims were students at his school. He molested them in his car or a karaoke where he would take the girls.
Sexual Assaults on Women in Japan
oddly-named sex club According to one survey, 60 percent of 459 Tokyo women surveyed said they had experienced some form of sexual assault ranging from verbal abuse to rape.
Only 6,124 rapes were reported nationwide in 1998. The true number is believed to much higher than that because most rapes go unreported. Women victimized by sexual crimes are regarded as dirty.
Perpetrators of sexual assaults often go unpunished. One American woman who was molested a Japanese man went to police. The man was arrested but police encouraged her not to press charges because he was a first time offender and he supported his parents.
An expert on sexual abuse told the New York Times, “In Japan, there is a rape myth, which says that the victim of rape is always to blame. Moreover, women are told that if you suffer molestation or groping, you have to be ashamed. If you talk about it to anyone else to anyone else, you are going to be tainted for the rest fo your life.”
After a gang rape occurred at Tokyo university, one member of parliament remarked, “Boys who commit group rape are in good shape. I think they are rather normal. Whoops, I shouldn’t have said that.”
A survey in 2010 found that 14 percent of sex offenders—mostly rapists and child molesters— repeated their crimes with 54 percent of them doing so within the first year of their release from prison.
Miyago Prefecture is considering employing a system like that used in some places in the United States in which sex offenders are be required to wear a GPS device attached to their ankle so their whereabouts can be monitored. The national government is not so keen on the idea, considering it Orswellian. Beginning in April 2010, sex offenders who committed crimes against children started receiving regular visits from police.
Japanese Subway Molesters
ideal environment for
a subway molester One of most notorious and embarrassing fixtures of the Japanese commuter life is the subway molester, a male who enjoys the opportunities presented by a crowded to subway to touch and fondle women's breasts, buttocks and legs. Men have also been caught with cameras in their shoes that allow them to take photographs up a woman’s skirt. [Source: Sherly Wu Dunn, New York Times, December 17, 1995]
Molesters are known as chikan. Most are salarymen in their 30s and 40s. Some have confessed that they have molested women in subways everyday for more than 25 years. About 1,500 to 1,700 men are arrested each year in Japan for groping, mostly on charges like violating city nuisance prevention ordinances. The number of report chikan cases on trains in the Tokyo metro area rose from 778 in 1996 to 1,338 in 1997 to 2,101 in 2000 to 2,201 in 2004. The cases involve unwanted grabbing f the buttocks, breasts or between the lags and may even involve ejaculation. Obviously there are many more cases that are not reported.
"When men and women are packed together, squeezed onto a train, I think everybody has some of desire to touch someone else," Samu Yamamoto, a member of molesters club, told the New York Times. "If someone were molesting on a train somewhere else in the world, they'd be accused of sexual harassment. It's unique to Japan that people put up with this."
Yamamoto has written about his experiences and said he met his wife after grabbing her on a subway. He says that his club meets occasionally to share tips and says the Christmas-New Year's holiday season is one of the best times for groping. "There lots of year-end parties and many women get drunk," he said, "so there will be plenty of good opportunities." For a while Yamamoto hosted a late-night television show called Chikan Hyakka (Encyclopedia of Groping) un which eh gave advise to prospective chikkab who wore ski masks to hide their identity,
In Japan there a number of websites and bulletin boards that offer tips on groping on subways and how to avoid getting caught. The websites were closed down after they were blamed for rise in the number of groping incidents.
Tokyo’s Saikyo Line Popular with Gropers
The JR Saikyo Line, which links Tokyo and Saitama Prefecture, has a reputation among gropers as being an "easy" place to molest passengers. In June 2012, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported: “Reported groping cases on the JR Saikyo Line have increased despite the installation of security cameras in some cars, apparently because gropers are targeting passengers in areas that are not under surveillance, according to the police. According to the Metropolitan Police Department, 1,244 cases of groping on trains were investigated last year in Tokyo, down 45 from 2010. However, cases on the Saikyo Line increased by 36 to 136. [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, June 15, 2012]
“The number of reported cases of groping on the Saikyo Line fell after East Japan Railway Co. installed security cameras in some cars in December 2009. Station staff are conducting patrols and in-train announcements to alert passengers are being made more frequently as part of move by JR East to snuff out the groping problem. "It seems the deterrent of the cameras has worn off," a JR East official said. [Ibid]
“When Saikyo Line trains stop near the busy Shinjuku and Shibuya stations, the cars at the northern end of the train stop near ticket gates and become especially crowded. Passengers on commuter express trains are cooped up for relatively long periods because the trains make few stops, and doors on one side stay shut for quite a long time--conditions that apparently were behind messages posted on the Internet that claimed molesting passengers on the Saikyo Line is simple. [Ibid]
“In a national first, JR East experimentally installed a total of six security cameras on two Saikyo Line trains to deter gropers. The first two cameras began filming inside the last car of a Tokyo-bound train during the rush hour in December 2009. The project initially had some success, with 136 groping cases reported to police in 2009, down 28 from the previous year. When security cameras were installed on all Saikyo Line trains in 2010, the number of cases fell to 100--the fewest in the past decade. JR East and the MPD suspect the rebound in molestation cases is possibly the result of gropers avoiding cars with security cameras. The train operator does not plan to install more cameras. Instead, JR East will take steps such as deploying more station staff on platforms to make it easier for passengers to report crimes. [Ibid]
Victims of Subway Molesters in Japan
A typical victims is on crowded train in which the passengers are squeezed against one another and there is so little space one can not even turn around. She is groped from behind and is unsure what to do and remains quiet. When she finally get a chance to turn around she faces three middle-aged salarymen and is unsure which one is the groper.
The National Police Agency estimates that 90 percent of train and subway groping incidents go unreported. In a survey of 2,221 women in August 2010, 304 women (13.7 percent ) said they had been groped and 271 of them (89.1 percent ) did not report it to police.
Many regular female subway riders say they have been grabbed at least once. One survey of high school girls found that 72 percent had been molested on a trains—most more than once. When police questioned victims of the Kobe earthquake in 1995, more women complained about subway molesters than the earthquake.
A survey by the Tokyo metropolitan government found that two of three women in their 20s and 30s have been groped on a train. Of these who had been griped about half said they endured it they could flee, a third said they tried to stop the molester. A third said they gave been molested in the past years, 40 percent said they had been molested three to five times. About 12 percent cent said they had been groped 11 times or more
Some victims complain that molesters have slipped a hand under their dresses and into their panties and slid a hand into their blouses to unhook their bras. One victim told the New York Times that she was so horrified when a molester slipped his hand under her bra she went out immediately and bought new clothes. Another said she saw a man fingering the undergarments of woman. "The train was so crowded she couldn't get away from him. At the next station she stepped out to change cars, but he followed her," she said.
Fighting Back Against Subway Molesters in Japan
Some women grab the molesters by their testicles and give them powerful squeeze, but the problem is that the subways are often so crowded they often don't know who is molesting them. Other women carry large hat pins, which serves two purposes: it allows women to give a groping hand a painful stab and when the owner of hand yells out, the women can find out who their attacker is.
One woman who said she was grabbed by the same man day after day when she took subway home from school told U.S. News and World Report, "One day I got so fed up I grabbed [his] hand and held it up for everyone to see. He never did it again,"
New women-only subway cars were introduced in February 2001 partly to help women escape groping. Many women like the segregated subway system. The number of chiackan assaults has not decreased though .
The government has organized a nationwide campaign: Chikan-wa Hanzai-da ("Groping Is a Criminal Offense"). Anti-groping posters are hung in subway stations. Some of them featured pretty teenage girls in school uniforms that probably did more to excite than discourage potential gropers,
In August 2009, a well-known television commentator and economist was sentenced to four months in prison for groping a female high school student on a Tokyo train. The defendant claimed he was innocent and took his case to the Supreme Court, which upheld the sentence.
In December 2005, a 40-year-old businessman died after being caught molesting a young woman on a packed train in Osaka. The man groped a 20-year-old student in the morning rush hour and then tried to escape by running into busy Tennoji station, where he was tackled by a 32-year-old off-duty police officer and passengers on the train. The man lost consciousness and later died.
Japanese Police and Subway Molesters
censored version The maximum sentence for groping is a ¥1 million fine and a prison sentence of 10 years for repeat offenders. Sometimes forensic specialist are called in to prove groping has taken place by matching fibers found on the suspects hands—extracted using a special sticky film applied to the hands—with those released by the victims clothing using a micro spectrophotometer. A hand that accidently brushes against the clothing does not pick up fibers like groping does. .
A special police task forces caught 77 gropers in trains in the Tokyo metropolitan area in just one week in 2010, according to the National Police Agency. The crackdown focused on trains in Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures, where griping is said to a problem. Forty-nine people were arrested for indecent assault, twenty-eight others were questioned. Twenty-nine of the 77 had previously been caught molesting on trains. [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun]
Most of the women claim that police and subway train masters are uncooperative and ignore their problem. One train master disagreed. He told the New York Times he tries to help but the vast majority of incidents are unreported. Recalling one incident, he said, "The woman didn't insist on calling the police and the guy admitted he did it but said he was repentant. We generally bring the woman to our office to sooth her and we reprimand the people who commit the crimes."
Some men have been falsely accused of molesting. One man in Nagasaki was arrested for groping and spent 21 days in prison but insisted that all he did was bump into the woman who accused him. Another man, in Tokyo, was accused by a woman of undoing his zipper and forcing a girl on a subway to fondle him even though he was wearing button-fly pants and had an overcoat on over that. He was arrested and jailed but was ultimately had the charges against him dropped but not before he spent $50,000 in legal fees and lost his job.
Men have killed themselves after being accused of groping. In August 2008, a 25-year-old man leapt to his death from a second floor while being questioned by police for allegedly touching a woman while she was swimming at Utsumi Beach in Aichi Prefecture. The man was impaled on iron railing below the veranda he leapt off of.
Some security cameras have been put in train cars to deter groping and prevent wrongful convictions.
In October 2009, a policeman in Hyogo Prefecture was arrested for stealing the underwear of a 14-year-old girl while visiting her house to question her about a crime.
Tokyo Subway Molesters Crackdown in 2011
In October 2011, Yoree Koh wrote in the Wall Street Journal: The Tokyo Metropolitan Police are beginning a one-week crackdown on subway molesters, known as chikan in Japan. There will be increased patrol units in civilian clothes roaming subway stations and trains with the specific aim of keeping an eye out for offenders, according to state broadcaster NHK. [Source: Yoree Koh, Wall Street Journal , October 24, 2011]
Unwanted handsy overtures and other lewd acts on Tokyo’s sardine-pack subway trains is not a new phenomenon. Yet despite different strategies to ward off unwanted advances, such as designating female-only subway cars during the morning rush-hour crush, the number of offenses remains uncomfortably high. There have been about 900 reported incidents inside subways cars in the first nine months of 2011 and Tokyo is set to break 1,000 offenses for the fourth consecutive year, according to NHK. About 18 percent of molestation cases took place inside or near a subway in 2010, according to the Tokyo police. In addition to the police officers, female volunteers distributed pamphlets encouraging commuters to report offenses.
'Up-skirt' Photos Aided by High-Tech Camera Technology
In November 2011, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported: An increasing number of cases of camera and video voyeurism using cell phones and spy cameras have been identified recently. According to the National Police Agency, the number of cases nationwide last year increased about 60 percent over five years ago. Police have stepped up crackdowns against such crimes, but methods of illicit filming have become increasingly sophisticated due to smaller cameras and improved cell phone video capabilities. Another factor behind the increase is believed to be the existence of Web sites sharing these photos and videos. [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, November 8, 2011]
According to the NPA, the total number of identified cases of up-skirt photos and videos taken in stations and on trains and illicit filming at public baths and bathrooms was 1,087 in 2006. The number jumped to 1,741 cases in 2010. Of those, 1,702 were cases of up-skirt photos and videos, accounting for about 98 percent. Among prefectures, 266 cases were detected in Kanagawa Prefecture, followed by 201 cases in Tokyo, 131 cases in Hyogo Prefecture, 111 cases in Chiba Prefecture and 103 cases in Saitama Prefecture. About 40 percent of the cases were detected in the Tokyo metropolitan area--Tokyo and its surrounding three prefectures.
Especially noteworthy were videos taken using cell phones. Fifty percent of arrests made by the prefectural police on suspicion of violating the public nuisance ordinance involved filming using cell phone video cameras. A man arrested by the prefectural police on suspicion of illicit filming in Chiba was quoted by the police as saying: "I used the video function as I cannot take still photos well with my cell phone. The still photo shutter sound is too noticeable." A police officer explained why illicit video is increasing: "It's easier to shoot videos [than take photos] and it's possible to edit videos when the data is transferred to a computer. The video can be stopped anywhere and photos can be made from it," he said.
Filming methods have also become more surreptitious. Some people hide small cameras in a bag or in their shoe. In Akita Prefecture, a doctor was arrested in September on suspicion of having taken a video of a patient while he was examining her with a video camera watch. The doctor told the police he had bought the camera on the Internet. The number of cases of illicit filming is also increasing in the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Police Department over the past few years. A senior MPD officer said, "One of the reasons is cameras have become smaller and quality has improved."
Experts say women using cell phones or wearing earphones are more likely to be targeted. A Chiba prefectural police officer warns women to be cautious of their surroundings, saying, "Please check behind yourself on trains or escalators without being totally absorbed in your cell phone or a music player." Rissho University Prof. Nobuo Komiya, an expert on criminal sociology, pointed out the necessity of proactive Web site identification by police. "In Japan, measures against indecent images on the Internet are weak and providers aren't detecting Web sites containing illicit images," he said.
Image Sources: 1) 3) Joan Sinclair's book Pink Boxes, 2) Japan Visitors 4) Picture Tokyo 5) Ray Kinnane and Wiki Commons
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Daily Yomiuri, Times of London, Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO), National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.
© 2009 Jeffrey Hays
Last updated August 2012