Japan has a serious societal problem with women being sexually assaulted on trains. The trains, in the Tokyo area especially, are at times so crowded that they are not only restricted to standing room, but you can also expect to be so close to others that you are literally being touched on all sides by other people’s bodies. The most packed trains are always the last ones to leave the city, at around 11:45 every night. The passengers of these cars are often exhausted from a long day (or week) of work and have spent the last few hours at a bar getting drunk. It seems that since the trains are so packed and everyone is in such close proximity to one another, some men may have the thought flash through their mind that they could cop-a-feel and potentially see no consequences, since they are one face amongst many and the hand could have come from any one of the five or six other men surrounding one woman.
There is also the fact that since the train is so crowded and there is virtually no option for moving or escape, the woman that is the victim of a “chikan” (literally, “grope”, and is also used as a word for a molester) may feel such extreme fear that she chooses not to react at all.
These posters are a symbol that Japan takes this issue seriously. They read “Chikan is a crime”.
They are always posted up in train stations and there are also PSA’s on television and magazines urging women to seek help or fight back if they are violated. The train system has also implemented “women only” cars that are the last car of a train in which no male is permitted on, to ensure that women trying to innocently reach their destination can do so without risk of sexual assault.