“It wasn’t me!” cried the man in the dark blue jacket as he leaped one April morning from a Tokyo train station platform onto the tracks. Outrunning his pursuers, he soon vanished from sight.
It’s been happening a lot lately – five similar episodes in March and April, usually during morning or evening rush hour, leaving passengers sullenly tweeting about the resulting delays. The media promptly dubbed the phenomenon “grope and run,” which is catchy but not necessarily fair. Not everyone accused of groping is guilty. Sometimes a woman is mistaken about who groped her. The acclaimed 2007 film “Sore de mo boku wa yattenai” (“Even so, I didn’t do it”) explored the issue from that angle. Or it may be that the woman wasn’t groped at all and is either a merry prankster, or a shakedown artist, or paranoid. All kinds of people ride trains.
Being groped is a dreadful experience for a woman. Being falsely accused of groping, observes Weekly Playboy (June 12) is a dreadful experience for a man. Once the police get their hands on you, they can keep you in custody for up to 23 days while they investigate. If your innocence is plain, they may let you go. Or they may not. In the film they didn’t. The wheels of justice turn slowly (if at all; Japan’s conviction rate tops 99 percent) while your life descends into nightmare.
But there’s something even worse than being falsely accused of groping, Playboy says. Namely: being falsely accused of rape.
The word “rape” conjures up images of dark alleys and sinister unknown attackers. It’s that too, but more often the victim and perpetrator know each other and the case hinges on just where the line is between force and consent.
Something like this is typical, says Playboy: he and she know each other from work, they get together for dinner one night, one thing leads to another – and the next morning he wakes to find a policeman knocking at his door. “But officer, it was consensual!” “Tell that to the judge. In the meantime, come with me.”
Or this: she has no regrets at first but subsequently finds him growing cold to her, or she learns he has a wife or girlfriend. Enraged, mortified, she charges rape.
Or this (though this is more likely to be exceptional than typical): a woman in her 20s applies for a job as a cabaret hostess. The manager of the establishment, a man in his 40s, takes her to a hotel for “training.” Later she testifies against the manager that she’d been led to believe the work massages, not sex. The more likely explanation – or at least a possible one – is that her mother found out and she charged coercion to save face.
Rape is a serious crime. Conviction can mean three years in prison without parole. And if the conviction is false? The thought is enough to chill a man’s courting ardor. Failing that, Playboy suggests two precautions. One: keep her mail. If she’s on record as welcoming your advances, her case would probably collapse. Two: this is a surveillance society. Security cameras are everywhere. That’s ominous but also comforting. If camera footage shows him and her holding hands on the street, or similar mutual amiability, it would go a long way towards establishing innocence.© Japan Today