International residents and visitors to Japan often comment on how safe they feel in Japan, and it is true that for the most part we live in a, relatively, very safe place. Sexually harassment and assaults against women do happen, and the Hiroshima police warn that they are on the rise.
In the first 5 months of this year there were 157 reported cases of groping, indecent exposure and propositioning of women across the prefecture, three times the number during the same period last year. You might expect this kind of thing to be most common in the streets of Hiroshima-city’s Nagarekawa entertainment district, but according to police the most cases have been in the small cities of Fukuyama, Mihara, Fuchu and, in the even more rural towns of Jinsekikougen and Sera. Among the cases mentioned above, there were 30 cases of groping, 28 of indecent exposure and 17 in which women were of followed. Top of Hiroshima’s depravity list was Fukuyama, city of roses, which accounted for 122 of the 157 cases, up 38 on least year. Is there something in the water in Fukuyama, or are the police and community groups doing a good job of convincing victims of the importance of filing reports?
It was in Fukuyama, the Chugoku Shimbun reports that there were three cases of a man dressed in women’s clothing and a wig grabbing at women on their way home during May. Police say that in many of the cases victims were listening to music with headphones, and urge women walking alone to pay close attention what’s going on around them.
The increase in reported sexual crimes against women seems to be part of a longer trend that goes back to at least 3 years. Crowded trains are a favorite hunting ground of chikan gopers. Back in May Chugoku Shimbun reported [ja] that despite a steep decline in reported groping cases on Hiroshima trains between 2006 (26 cases) and 2009 (18 cases), the trend turned upward again from 2010 (26 cases). 34 of the 39 cases reported in 2011 were against minors (under 20), with 20 of them against high school students.
The Hiroshima Prefectural Railway Police Groping Help Line can be reached at 082-263-0300.