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    You can only see the top ninth, you know

    You know how your friends who have been to Tokyo complain about the groping problem? We are not kidding:

    A record 2,201 cases of women molested on trains were reported in Tokyo last year, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) said.

    However, MPD officials said that they believe this is just the tip of the iceberg, noting that numerous victims of such crimes choose not to file criminal complaints against their molesters.

    Among the 2,201 cases, the MPD arrested, or sent investigation reports to prosecutors, on 1,886 suspects aged 14 to 80. Those in their 30s, some 37 percent, accounted for the largest number of suspects. About 30 percent of the victims were high school girls.

    Now, before anyone starts drawing conclusions about fundamental kinkiness in the Japanese character…uh, well, truth be told, there is some of that. But I think it’s fair to say that this is more a function of (1) having people packed so tight that you can essentially make mischief unobserved in the middle of a crowd of 200 people and (2) teaching women that part of modesty is not standing up for yourself in public.

    11 Responses to “You can only see the top ninth, you know”

    1. Mrs. du Toit says:

      A friend of ours explained that this same sort of thing happens in Mexico City. It happened so much, in fact, that they actually had to divide men and women on the trains. She told us about a time when the power went out that the men went nuts groping all the women.
      As a typical American, I responded, “What did you do?” Her response amounted to, “Nothing, what could I do?”
      That is not an American’s way of dealing with it.
      The trick, as you know, in situations like this is not to change the attitude of the men. Most men will not behave this way so you’re always going after the outliers (who are immune to calls for civilized behavior anyway). The response is to retrain the women. They have to learn to stand up for themselves. Close quarters and all makes for convenient opportunities for the women to make their point, too.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Mrs. du Toit:
      “Close quarters and all makes for convenient opportunities for the women to make their point, too.”
      [crosses legs] I’m not sure exactly what you have in mind, but I agree that, short of jiggering with the train schedule so that the crowding decreases to the point that no miscreants can be sure of being covered, the only thing you can do if women want the freedom of movement they’re entitled to is to prepare them. They have to know how to deal decisively with whatever they encounter without being thrown for a loop.
      “And the Keio women-only car is not the answer.”
      I agree. What John’s talking about, BTW, is a set of train cars that are designated as women-only during rush hour. One reason they’re not the solution is that after evening rush hour is when the men are drunkest, and–unless my recollection is inaccurate–the train cars go back to being open to all comers after 9 o’clock or so.

    3. John says:

      I didn’t mean the logistics, Sean, I meant that the behavior needs to be modified: women shouldn’t have to run and hide on public transport. I would love to have seen some barcode-haired salaryman do that to my wife. She would have kicked him in the fork so hard he’d need an ontolaryngologist to find his gonads.
      As far as logistics go, most OLs go home at the 5:00 -6:00 rush hour, leaving the 9:00 second rush hour to the relatively few professional women.

    4. John F. Opie says:

      Hi –
      I’m assuming that you refer to this sort of warning:
      Of course, an American selling Japanese stuff to the US and the world is selling this as a t-shirt.
      I got one, of course, for my father’s 70th birthday…

    5. Sean Kinsell says:

      John, sorry–I mistook what aspect of the situation you were answering. You’re right in that case, too. Women should not feel forced to congregate in their own sealed container-car to avoid being pawed.
      As for commuting patterns…hmmm…. I don’t know whether they go home and change first, but there are always plenty of OLs in restaurants at 9-ish on work nights, in my experience. Sometimes they’re together in a girls’-night-out group, but more often they’re in the company of guys from work. Middle-aged men here tend to have been made pretty interchangeable in attractiveness by years of smoking, boozing, and groveling, and almost no one wears a suit properly (from our point of view). That means the only way you can usually tell which tables are full of high-ranking men is that they have the prettiest, best-dressed, most deferential girls with them.
      John O., because I’m in Japan, the site redirected me, and I had to enter from its homepage. Therefore, I’m not sure whether you went for the “Beware of perverted men” or the “Beware of perverted women” model. You do frequently see such warnings posted, though–oddly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one inside a train. Maybe the authorities know how pointless and redundant it would be. The odd dark corner of a park and the like often has one, frequently with chikan spelled out in bold, red kana, either to get everyone’s attention or to make sure the younger girls can read it.

    6. John says:

      If I remember rightly, chikan is a Korean loan word.
      And not wearing suits properly: what is it with the blue suits and white socks?

    7. John says:

      And the Keio women-only car is not the answer.

    8. Sean Kinsell says:

      I always just figured that the white socks were a carry over from the tradition of wearing tabi. I’m not sure, though.

    9. John says:

      I thought it stemmed from GIs handing out sweat socks from care packages during the occupation. Could be a combination of factors. It’s really only the old guys who do that anymore, or maybe I was biased in my observatinos by working in a Western company.

    10. Sean Kinsell says:

      Oh, clever you! I hadn’t even thought of that, though it’s obviously the source of the canned corn/mayo/white bread/bacon constellation of ingredients in “Western” food here.

    11. John says:

      Ick, Kewpie mayo on cold, boiled bamboo shoots. Is there a more disgusting “salad”? And that one, I think, actually pre-dates the war, because older Taiwanese eat it too. Unless there was some carry over via the Japanese left there after 1945, or in some Jungian psychotic Asian vibe they picked it up simultaneously.