In the late afternoon of Friday, Nov 19, 25-year-old Tatsunori Koga was at work and in his seat. He wasn’t in an office, though, because Koga works as a bus driver for Meitetsu Bus Co in Nagoya.
A little after 4 p.m., he pulled over to the side of the road for what he assumed was going to be a routine stop at a bus stop in Nagoya’s Moriyama Ward. As with most busses in Japan, passengers exit via the door at the front of the vehicle, but the 18-year-old girl who walked up to where Koga was sitting didn’t want to get off, but to report a chikan, or groper.
“Somebody touched me,” she began, as tears welled up in her eyes and she started to cry. As Koga was listening to what she had to say, though, another passenger, a man in his 60s, slipped past the girl, hopped off the bus, and nonchalantly started walking away. “It was him,” the girl said, pointing to the man as he continued to put distance between himself and the bus.
“I have to find out the truth,” Koga recalls thinking, his inner dialogue suggesting that he might have missed his calling as a detective, before jumping out of the driver’s seat and chasing after the man.
When Koga caught up to the man several meters away from where he’d left the bus parked, he informed him that a passenger was claiming that he had groped her. “I just accidentally bumped into her,” the man, who had been sitting in the seat next to the girl, protested, but Koga wasn’t going to be easily convinced. As he continued questioning the man about the situation, a police cruiser happened to roll by, and after Koga flagged it down, the officers took over, with the man eventually admitting to the crime, saying “I wanted to see how she would react.”
Part of what makes catching chikan difficult is that they often strike when the vehicle is crowded, like the man did as Koga’s bus was filling up with passengers in the early stages of rush hour. Often by the time the victim realizes the contact is intentional, the chikan has already gotten their jollies and makes a getaway at the next stop, completely disappearing from the scene of the crime before the victim can even report the incident to an authority figure. Thanks to the girl’s quick willingness to come forward and Koga’s speedy response, though, the chikan was arrested and taken into custody.
At the beginning of this month, Koga was presented with a letter of commendation from the Aichi Prefectural Police’s Moriyama Ward. Upon receiving it, he said “The actions of chikan are truly unforgivable, and I feel terrible for the victim. For the sake of the local residents, I want to continue working to make our busses ones that they can feel safe riding,” proving that not only does he occasionally sound like a detective, he sometimes sounds like a superhero too.
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