Monday saw the first early morning â€œwomen-onlyâ€ carriages operating in Tokyo. Previously the infamous Saikyo Line only had such coaches in use late at night, but with reported groping incidents roughly tripling from 778 cases in 1996, to 2,201 in 2004, the East Japan Railway Company decided such drastic action was necessary.
Reaction to the new service (irrespective of the picture above) was generally positive. Tomoyo Okamto, a 27-year-old office worker, spoke for many women by saying, “I had been worried only because men are in the same carriages in the morning. I’m relieved now.”
And despite the extra crush in the regular (and presumably women-free) carriages, there was a similar sense of contentment. Middle-aged company employee Hitoshi Ishida was happy as, â€œit’s a good change because I no longer have to carry a bag and hang onto a strap to avoid being mistaken for a molester.”
Yet as well as praising the new system, Ishida-san brought up an interesting point. â€œIf other carriages are more crowded as a result, the railway operator should set some other coaches aside for elderly people.”
This proposition, despite making a lot of sense, could however open a huge can of worms, with all manner of people and social groups pushing for their own carriages. And in an attempt to get in first, I’ve already sent a request to Japan Railways for a “British blokes in their 30s carriage”.