What could be described as a trial – all 20 days of it – concluded last Wednesday, involving a man that stood accused of entering the women’s restroom without possessing the legal amount of X chromosomes to do so.
According to reports, last December the unidentified 64-year-old was walking along the streets of Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, when nature called. However, this was unlike a friendly call from an old high-school chum; this call had all the urgency and fury of a bill collector whose wife he also had an affair with.
With every second of the essence, the man frantically hurried to the nearest venue he could find that would probably have a public restroom. To his luck, he was right near the sprawling Hamamatsu Science Museum which did have facilities in its front lobby.
After a panicked trot across the floor of the museum he spotted the restrooms that were reportedly marked with the sign pictured above, available on Amazon. The main purpose of the sign is to acknowledge that staff also use the restrooms, and is a bit of a parody of a typical restroom sign, with the woman and man figures bowing in apology.
He then rushed through the entrance and beelined it to the nearest available stall. However, by the time he realized that he had entered the women’s room it was too late. He was arrested and brought up on charges of invading the ladies room. If found guilty he would have to pay a fine of 100,000 yen.
However, the man pleaded not guilty, insisting that the sign he saw with both a woman and man together strongly suggested that it was a unisex restroom. The prosecution discredited that claim saying that there was additional signage that clearly delineated the entrances to the men’s and women’s rooms.
Presiding judge Ayako Sasabe agreed that the different rooms were clearly marked. However, given the man’s need to powerfully defecate, which was proven by the testimony of eyewitnesses who saw him walking around the hall quickly and looking for a toilet, and given the potentially misleading sign, there is reasonable doubt about his criminal intent.
Among readers of the news, no one argued with the ruling, but everyone wondered how what tends to be little more than a really awkward mistake boiled into a full-blown criminal trial.
“That kind of thing happens all the time. I’ve even done it and quickly darted out when I saw a urinal.”
“It’s fine as long as he didn’t do anything bad while he was in there…”
“They arrested him for something like that? If the gender roles were reversed it wouldn’t have gone that far.”
“This is a landmark ruling! I’m going to a women’s restroom right now!”
“I see old ladies going into men’s rooms at rest stops all the time. Nothing ever happens to them.”
“Women’s restrooms are all private anyway. They all have their own stalls so if a man enters no one is affected.”
“I used to work at a mall and always got a laugh when I checked the security cameras and saw guys frantically looking for toilets.”
The defendant’s legal team is also of the mind that this was an overreaction to a simple mistake. They are currently reviewing the details of the ruling but one lawyer told media that the arrest was “overkill,” suggesting they may file a countersuit.
Sources: Shizuoka Shimbun, Hachima Kiko
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