Rail firms are urged to introduce more `women-only' cars.
More gropers and other deviants were caught on East Japan Railway Co.'s Saikyo Line last year than any other rail service in the Tokyo area, statistics show.
The Saikyo Line is notorious for its overcrowding and lechers.
The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), in its first compilation of such offenders on specific commuter train lines in the capital area, said the Saikyo Line had the worst record, with 217 offenders, followed by the JR Chuo Line, with just under 200.
Overall, officials recorded 1,886 violators in 1,897 instances of breaches in the Tokyo metropolitan government's ordinance on nuisance prevention, which includes groping offenses and other lewd acts. Gropers accounted for most violations, but 44 of the total cases involved covert photos, up skirts, for example.
The MPD statistics reported:
*The 1,897 victims included 565 senior high school students and 87 junior high school students. Twenty of the victims were males.
*About 40 percent of the incidents occurred during rush hour between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.
*Among the 1,886 offenders caught, 695 were in their 30s, followed by 409 in their 20s.
*The youngest offender was 14 and the oldest 80.
A 20-year-old female university student who uses the Saikyo Line said she often comes across gropers. ``It takes guts to shout out loud and you can't push them away because the train is packed,'' she said.
The Saikyo Line connects Osaki Station in central Tokyo to Omiya Station in Saitama Prefecture. The JR Chuo Line runs between central Tokyo and residential areas of western Tokyo.
``Lines that have schools along them and have relatively long sections between stations have become the targets of gropers,'' said a senior MPD official in charge of community safety.
The Saikyo Line, for instance, does not stop between Shinjuku and Ikebukuro stations. But the Yamanote Line, which runs parallel along the same segment, stops three times in between those stations.
The metropolitan government and the MPD have requested that railway companies introduce ``women only'' cars or expand them if companies already operate them.
JR East, for instance, already designates ``women only'' cars after 10:50 p.m. on weekdays on the Saikyo Line but has no plans to introduce them for the morning rush hours.
Keio Electric Railway Co. has cars exclusively for women on Keio Line trains that leave Shinjuku Station after 11 p.m. on weekdays. But Keio does not plan to expand that service.
An official with JR East said ``women only'' cars made it difficult to evenly disperse passengers in other cars. The official also said that ``women only'' cars might not stop at the same spots on platforms depending on the shapes of cars and lengths of trains.
The Tokyo Metro does not operate ``women only'' cars and is not planning to introduce them. Tokyo Metro officials said people would crowd into certain cars if some were designated ``women only'' during rush hours, posing a risk to passengers.
However, in July 2002, JR West introduced ``women only'' cars during weekday morning rush hours in its commuter loop services in the Osaka area, and the attempt proved popular.
The morning service has since been adopted in other JR and subway trains in the Kansai area as well as in the Nagoya's Higashiyama subway line and in Nishi-Nippon Railroad Co. services in Fukuoka.(IHT/Asahi: February 9,2005)