A new poster campaign launched by Aichi prefectural police in a bid to eradicate groping on trains (chikan in Japanese), has been suspended amid complaints from the public that the vocabulary used in the posters was inappropriate.
The posters, which were displayed at stations across Aichi Prefecture from June 1, show an illustration of a young man wearing a business suit to the right and an ongoing social media conversation resembling one on the free messaging app Line between two women to the left of the poster. A copy at the center of the poster reads, “It looks like that man was arrested” (Ano hito, taiho sareta rashiiyo).
The conversation between the two women on the poster reads as follows:
-Did you hear? That man was arrested for sexual assault on the train.
-It’s true! Just read it on the news online. He didn’t seem like a person who would do that kind of thing.
- That’s disgusting. I can’t… He’s a sexual predator.
- He’ll lose his job, too. And his family will suffer.
- Of course. I never want to be involved with him.
- I wonder what will happen …
- By the way…I met him on the train by chance the other day.
- Really? Did he do anything weird to you?
- No, nothing at the time… But I don’t want to even remember him.
- We as women have to be careful not to become victims (of chikan)
After releasing the posters, the prefectural police received multiple complaints from the public, including many that said the usage of the phrase “sexual predator” (seihanzaisha) in the poster is not appropriate because it is based on an assumption that a person who is arrested on suspicion of being a chikan should immediately be labeled as a sexual predator.
The police released a statement saying that they had intended to depict the gravity of sexual assaults occurring on trains and that they were hoping the impact of the posters would be strong enough to prevent people from conducting any similar acts on trains.
Despite verbally supporting the campaign, however, the Aichi police suspended the campaign and retracted all 500 posters from the stations on June 5, only four days after the campaign began.
Michiko Kameishi, an Osaka-based lawyer, commented on the incident on her official Twitter account, saying that the campaign “attracts misunderstandings and boosts prejudice.”© Japan Today