Japan police target sexual molesters

April 8, 2010 12:00 am

, TOKYO, Apr 8 – Japanese police will next week launch a crackdown against sexual molesters on Tokyo\’s rush-hour trains, officials and news reports said Thursday.

Some 120 officers will board train carriages to catch men who fondle women or try to sneak revealing photographs of them, while campaign posters will be put up at subway stations, a police spokesman and Jiji Press said.

Police will also set up information booths at train stations to advise and counsel female commuters in the week-long campaign, which starts April 15 and is timed to coincide with the start of the school and business year.

"With the campaign, we aim to crack down on a vicious act that targets innocent female passengers," the police spokesman said. Police did not disclose whether they would deploy uniformed or undercover officers.

Concern has risen in recent years in Japan about gropers, some of whom have exchanged tips on Internet forums.

In 2001 Tokyo began running women-only carriages during rush hours.

The number of sexual assaults, excluding rape, on trains has fallen gradually since 2004, according to National Police Agency data, but some 340 cases were still reported last year, 80 percent in and around Tokyo.

NPA data also shows that more than 2,500 cases of groping, harassment and other sexual offences were reported in public areas, including trains and subways, in Tokyo and three adjacent prefectures in 2008.

Offenders face up to six months in jail or fines of up to 500,000 yen (5,500 dollars), or 10 years\’ jail if they use violence or threats.

In a similar police campaign last September, more than 100 high school girls carried banners that read "Groping is contemptible. We don\’t forgive it!"

East Japan Railway, which is taking part in the operation, has separately set up security cameras on two trains on a trial basis as part of its own effort to prevent molestation, a company spokesman said.

The company now plans to introduce the system on all trains on the northern Saikyo line, which is notorious for its high rate of molestation, he said.


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