crime

Backlash as Japanese police tweet warns women to not ride elevators alone with men

51 Comments
By Meg Murphy, RocketNews24

On March 5 at an apartment complex in Osaka’s Naniwa Ward, a female resident of the building got on the elevator. Moments later, a man in his 30s also entered and, once the doors had closed on them, proceeded to molest the woman, groping her breast.

After the incident was reported, Osaka police tweeted a crime report on their public Twitter account, which included a warning to women in the area: “Please do not take an elevator alone with a man.”

We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that this was meant to be a concerned, helpful tweet encouraging women to play it safe, though a number of Internet users in Japan immediately voiced their objections to the remark, including:

“It’s impossible to never end up on an elevator alone with another man.” “Stop trying to force responsibility on the victim. If you want to ‘prevent crime’, then make announcements to help control assault.” “Sooner or later people are going to start wanting women-only elevators.”

The final comment here is in reference to the “Women Only” train cars seen in a number of Japanese cities, which have at times become a topic of debate themselves. It is highly unlikely that we’ll be debating women-only elevators anytime soon, but it does beg the question: what can be done to prevent assaults like this, which are still happening all too frequently?

Hiroshima prefectural police, who have advised women similarly regarding taking elevators alone with men, suggest too, should an unknown man approach to take the same elevator, allow the man to ride first, and wait for the next elevator instead. They also advise women to call their family when they are near home to have someone come down to wait for them on the first floor and accompany them on the elevator and into their apartment.

Kazuko Hirakawa, board chairman of the Sexual Assault Relief Center of Tokyo (SARC), however, warns that advice like this could lead to people blaming the victims, or even the victims blaming themselves rather than their attackers.

Osaka prefectural police later gave a more detailed explanation regarding their hugely unpopular tweet.

“We do whatever is in our power to find and arrest suspects of sexual assault, use various means to prevent such crimes from happening, and do what we can to support the victims. Regarding the tweet that was made in relation to the molestation incident in an apartment elevator, it was simply a caution to women, not a forceful demand to defend themselves. Due to the limited number of characters Twitter allows per post, we couldn’t explain fully, but we issued the warning as a suggestion to give women a means to avoid becoming victims.”

Hirakawa says that it’s difficult for an organization like SARC to get behind that sort of suggestion, “because not all men are scary beings.” She suggests installing things like “criminal alarms” ("bohan beru") and surveillance cameras inside elevators instead.

Sexual assault, like all other crimes, is something that will likely never go away completely, but hopefully with more awareness and more facilities to help deter criminals, incidents like this one will become a rarity.

Source: Yahoo! Japan News

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- “Women who attract chikan, and women who don’t”: The illustrated guide that’s provoking debate -- Man found innocent of indecent assault denied 12 million yen compensation by Supreme Court of Japan -- Are Women-Only train cars illegal in Japan?

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


51 Comments
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Pepper spray would solve this problem fast.

11 ( +13 / -3 )

Well that is a DUMB suggestion....

What will be next "Women!!! if you don't want to be molested on elevators, don't use them" or "In order to avoid being sexually assaulted on elevators, women should learn how to levitate"....

16 ( +18 / -2 )

I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume this is more of a gaffe than anything more sinister. It's offensive to literally everyone... It assumes that women play a roll in their own victimization and it assumes that all men are chomping at the bit to molest solitary women. Derp.

15 ( +16 / -2 )

“Stop trying to force responsibility on the victim. If you want to ‘prevent crime’, then make announcements to help control assault."

Exactly! How about the police hunt down this loser and lock him up. Or, better still, work towards changing the cultural prejudice against women in Japan that treats them like a piece of meat, but I know I am asking the impossible! Keep it up Japanese men! You are just creating more beautiful single Japanese women for us foreigners who can keep their hands by their sides in an elevator and have a conversation.

-6 ( +6 / -12 )

seems like common sense to me. It's why they have mirrors in the cars. So, you can see if someone hiding.

Also, not only good advice for women. You could get robbed.

This pretty much standard in NYC when I was there.

-13 ( +3 / -15 )

The Mirrors are for Wheelchair users, hence also the additional buttons on the sidewalls.

Pepperspray in a small confined area can also backfire. The advice makes sense.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

Unpopular thought, but allowing and encouraging citizens more leeway to defend themselves might be a start. Not necessarily full on pepper spray, but empowering women to start slapping/kicking/going on the offensive.

Second, why not up the penalty significantly if caught on camera? And why not a public access sex offender public database? Not sure how effective it would be, but here in Japan where reputation and image is king, a lot of people might be less inclined if their crimes were to be public knowledge for all time.

(Should go without saying, more must be done to ensure innocents are not wrongly accused. As in use camera evidence etc...)

6 ( +6 / -1 )

I wouldn't want to ride in an elevator alone with a woman in case she makes a false allegation against me. Who are the J-cops gonna believe? A fat gaijin in his 50s or a Japanese woman? These creeps make life worse for all men. Japan may be "safe" an all but you certainly don't want to get caught up in this sorta thing. Guilty or not, it will ultimately be your word against hers.

And I believe the J-Cops are now going to be looking for some men to make an example of to show they are taking this threat seriously. (...and rightly so I may add)

I think I will just stay at home and drink beer.

11 ( +13 / -5 )

"Due to the negative response to our previous suggestion, we now suggest the designation and use of "Women Only" stairs." - Osaka Police Dept.

I don't really use Twitter, so maybe I'm missing something, but who the hell follows the Osaka police twitter account?

6 ( +5 / -0 )

How common are incidents like this one? Are we talking thousands every week or month?

I just think it can be counter productive for police to 'warn' citizens and encourage drastic measures ("don't take the lift with a man", "ask a relative to wait for you outside when you get home." etc).

Imo women/potential victims aren't the ones who should be warned, the weirdos who do that sort of thing are. If anything police should tell/reassure the public how committed they are to arrest those guys and lock them up.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Bingo! Exactly why the women only train cars are not at all helping the problem, and are instead putting the fault on the victim. So, now if a woman is riding an elevator and a man enters (should they therefore get off?), the police can now say, "We warned you!"

1 ( +4 / -3 )

savethegaijinAPR. 19, 2016 - 03:51PM JST I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume this is more of a gaffe than anything more sinister.

I'm not going to give them the benefit of the doubt because they've had decades to figure out this problem and the whole world has been having a discussion about who is at fault during a sexual assault, which apparently these police haven't been listening to.

The fact of the matter is, Japanese police have a long culture of not taking sexual assault seriously. And these kind of gaffes are going to keep happening as long as the public continues to give them the benefit of the doubt.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

As far as I am concerned they can put a camera on every corner if the want to...and they should!!

Innocent folk have nothing to fear from CCTV.

The problem we have here is that the victims are being blamed in some way or another, and all men are being tarnished as sex pests because of the sins of a few creeps.

Neither is fair is it. Put more cameras up and when caught nail these guys. Taking one persons word other another is not the answer here folks.

...and neither is isolation.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Women should take the stairs... the exercise will make them cuter, too.

0 ( +13 / -13 )

choiwaruoyaji exactly

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

All throughout human society rape and sexual assault is all to common a crime committed by men, but why do men believe that they have the right to commit such crimes of assault. Society want to blame the victim, women, for the crimes that men do. "You should have known better than to enter the elevator with this man." Nobody ever said, "How dare you believe that you have the right to assault any woman you see." The focus should be on the attitudes that men have, and why they believe they have the right to sexually assault or molest anyone. "You don't have the right to touch me." The victim should ask to be escorted to their homes by a companion (male) onto the elevator? Maybe they feel that women would be safe is they don't walk alone, and only leave their homes whey they are escorted by a male family member. We talk about the safety of society against terrorists, but men terrorize women on a daily basis, and they get away with this assault on a day to day basis. Women should not have to live in fear every time they leave their homes. Men and boys, have to be taught that such things are not permitted in society, and that there are consequences to these actions.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

women are being overly sensitive and are to blame for the decline in population. Women were put on earth to populate and give birth to babies, the future taxpayer. Today Japanese women are too sensitive and have too much western influence that is bad for Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Always take the elevator instead of the stairs. Stairwells are horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot. Don't get on an elevator if there is a weirdo already on there. Of course bad men don't always look bad. Don't stand back in the corners of the elevator. Be near the front, by the doors, ready to get off or on. If you get on the elevator on the 25th floor, and the Boogeyman gets on the 22nd, get off when he gets on. Don't ride the elevator with him if you are not comfortable.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Choiwaruoyaji, that is a winner!They should only ride the down escalator too. Upskirt photo problem solved. Great minds working in unison solve the heretofore insolvable.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Woman sure need to go through many extra loopholes just for the basic human right of not being molested.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I hope this doesn't encourage "women-only" elevators during rush hour - or any time.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Hirakawa.. suggests installing... surveillance cameras inside elevators instead

Doh! That would be a good idea. How much extra would it cost to make everyone feel safe?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I don't really use Twitter, so maybe I'm missing something, but who the hell follows the Osaka police twitter account?

Need you ask? I would not be surprised if AFP and other media like Yahoo Japan see it as a invaluable source of news stories.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Pay your taxes and get this sort of crap in return.

Next there will be tweets from the publicly run day care centers advising families to not have kids to avoid getting stuck on government day care facility waiting lists.

They don't get it and neither do a lot of the dopey voters.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Using the example provided in the article, the woman DIDN'T get on an elevator alone with a man. She got into an EMPTY elevator and still got molested. The man entered after her.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Lol, so the better solution thought up by JT's fine readers is to "educate" men that they can't just assault any women !? Seriously ? I wonder why sexual assaults usually happen in closed areas where no one is looking ? Is it because these predators know they can't do that ? Reality hammer has hit you multiple times and you still refuse to wake up.

I'd rather tell my daughters that there are predators out there, and it's never their fault if those predators targeted them, and that they can fight back! because fighting back is the first line of defense. Give in and predators win easily! Fight but fail ? it's still not their faults!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@katsu78

*I'm not going to give them the benefit of the doubt because they've had decades to figure out this problem and the whole world has been having a discussion about who is at fault during a sexual assault, which apparently these police haven't been listening to.

The fact of the matter is, Japanese police have a long culture of not taking sexual assault seriously. And these kind of gaffes are going to keep happening as long as the public continues to give them the benefit of the doubt.*

Probably quite a bit of wishful thinking on my part, if I'm being honest.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

First step to conquer all this is to establish proper social conduct between women and men. Getting into gender groups automatically is X at the start when normal conversations are ongoing. Alpha, Beta, Alien males? None of it. It doesn't matter whether that person is funny, etc, women have to try make effort to actually put an interest to talk to a guy she doesn't like, or likes. Women have to start making an effort to talk to any guy equally, just like we do. Why is it always that we text, chat so much and the receiving end doesn't even bother to make past the 10 lines? All should talk equally, one on one.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

might try wearing hats that require long hat pins.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Perhaps a "beware of chikan" sign would have been good enough.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

once the doors had closed on them, proceeded to molest the woman, groping her breast.

This scenario is too common in Japan. You've prop seen something similar in a movie, adult video, adult magazine or manga. Why should this behavior surprise everyone when those kind of images and scenarios are readily available to purchase at any 7-11 or legal adult shop?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

With my experience with Osaka Police in the past, all they do is file paperwork and then never contact you again. They will live on with their great benefits and fat retirement while you suffer in the real World.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

at an APARTMENT COMPLEX... a female RESIDENT of the building got in the elevator

So how long would it take for the police to find the guy who ALSO LIVED IN THE APARTMENT COMPLEX once she had given them a description? Did they even bother?

Well done to the woman for reporting it!!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

These creeps make life worse for all men. Japan may be "safe" an all but you certainly don't want to get caught up in this >>sorta thing. Guilty or not, it will ultimately be your word against hers.

Maybe time to have some lecture here and get informed :

http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-7110a.html

Not contact allowed directly, even with the Embassy or Consulate :

"Arrested persons are not allowed to make telephone calls. If you ask that the Embassy or Consulate be notified, the police will call us on your behalf. You cannot speak to us by phone, nor can you call friends or relatives."

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"...but it does beg the question: what can be done to prevent assaults like this, which are still happening all too frequently?"

All too frequently is rather fuzzy. I wonder how much a problem "assaults like this" actually occur.

I wonder if it is more a problem, then, oh, I don't know, men beating up men.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Men and boys, have to be taught that such things are not permitted in society, and that there are consequences to these actions.

@ Kristianna, I think the corollary of this is that however much you "educate" men and boys, there will always be some who don't care. So shouldn't we also educate women and girls that whatever their rights to move freely might be, some people won't respect those and they have to take care? I really don't think that society at large does want to blame the victim. Most of of us get the message. We're not the problem. Here in the UK I see various campaigns with posters that try to "educate" men (pictures of girls with captions like "this is not an invitation to rape"). But generally they are preaching to the choir, and perhaps are putting women at risk with the implication that it's OK for women to go wherever they want. (As a 14-year old boy, I think I'd already learned that not everywhere was safe.)

and surveillance cameras inside elevators instead That makes sense to me.

Perhaps a "beware of chikan" sign would have been good enough. And oddly, so does that. It directly focuses on the weirdness of the perpetrator. Most men don't want to be branded as a chikan rather than a "regular guy".

@kibousha, Thanks. Nice post.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The only rational solution is women only cities.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wouldn't be surprised if they announced "Women must use stairs only. Men use elevators" (being that this is a chauvinistic society)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Once again shifting responsibility to the victims in order to keep women in their place. The women only train carriages are truly disgraceful

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If a person who enters the elevator attempts anything (rape, robbery, assault etc) you should slide your hand over all the floor buttons so it stops at each floor.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

This suggestion from the Osaka PD is typical for establishment thinking in Japan: Don't address the specific unwanted behavior, but rather adopt a scorched-earth approach wherein the innocent are caught up in the ensuing destruction.

Gropers on the train? Create separate "Women Only" cars, effectively announcing open season on any woman who chooses not to ride in one.

Accident on escalators? Nobody should walk up or down escalators any more.

Sexually assaulted on an elevator? Don't take the elevators anymore if a potential attacker (i.e., "anyone." really) is also riding the elevators with you.

How about addressing the actual behavior? How about galvanizing society behind the entirely reasonable idea that it's not okay to sexually assault women anywhere? Or how about getting society behind the entirely reasonable idea that rape and assault are not valid forms of entertainment in games, books, and film?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The one thing that the police department is doing in this situation is propagating fear.

1) Fear of men by women. (Men are molestors and perverts.)

2) Fear of women by men. (You can't be alone with a woman because she'll falsely accuse you.)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I'm surprised no one has suggested women should have to wear full body veils when they leave their homes. Oh...hang on a minute...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This "Don't blame the victim" mentality is moronic.

Which is easier:

1) Teaching a criminal not to commit crimes

OR

2) Teaching law abiding citizens to defend themselves

Heres a hint: you cant teach someone to be what they aren't.

I don't think this tweet was a good idea, but rather, maybe they just need to encourage people in general to carry pepper spray, or be more aware of their surroundings ,or what have you. Being cautious not to become a victim is the best course of action.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

@darkknightz:

Or, I dunno...we could go with C) make the punishment for sexual crimes to a level where doing the crime becomes extremely prohibitive?

While you are right that people should protect themselves better, but to suggest it is ever the victims fault when any crime such as this happens is a terrible way to think about this.

Were I to leave my house unlocked and come home to it burgled, I would certainly accept being called careless, but it is not my fault some idiot decided my house was on the list tonight.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

12,000,000 people and one asult causes panic?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This "Don't blame the victim" mentality is moronic...

Teaching people to not only fear precisely one half of the general population, but also to effectively run away in fear is what's moronic in a society based on law and order, which is what Japan is.

Exhorting women to hide from men and avoid being alone with them when in public places like an elevator or train delivers a broader message that society has essentially given up and admits sexual assault is an unavoidable norm.

It's not.

Telling would-be assailants that society has simply accepted that they are a natural part of life in public spaces.

They aren't.

Implicitly stating that any women traveling in a public space unescorted is effectively inviting sexual assault.

She's not.

be more aware of their surroundings ,or what have you. Being cautious not to become a victim is the best course of action.

Yes, this is a great piece of advice. But it's an absurdly far cry from, "Don't share an elevator with men."

The Osaka Police tweet is the effective equivalent of, "Look at your gender. You're asking for it."

That's not any part of a solution. It's part of the problem.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"12,000,000 people and one assault causes panic?"

It is not "panic", it's called OUTRAGE...

OUTRAGE at all the cases that are NOT REPORTED. The fact is that UNREPORTED CRIME in Japan is a NATIONAL DISGRACE!!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

choiwaruoyaji、 take the stairs? even though your floor is 45th floor?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

TheGodfatherApr. 19, 2016 - 08:35PM JST

Hirakawa.. suggests installing... surveillance cameras inside elevators instead

Doh! That would be a good idea. How much extra would it cost to make everyone feel safe?

I would agree but I can see some pervert installing a camera under a Plexiglas floor. Well they did not say "Where to install them....they just said we want cameras in the elevators".

Seriously though.... it is the creepers fault not a victims. If the street is full of criminals your primary concern should be to clean up the street not just tell people to forever stay indoors.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The police might as well have said "Please don't be a woman".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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