TV & Radio
Voices from the platform
Paul Jackson / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer
For millions of commuters working in Tokyo, standing in an orderly line waiting to board an overcrowded train is a daily ritual. Some of them recently agreed to share their opinions about women-only carriages with The Daily Yomiuri.
"Many women have experienced being groped on the train, so I'm all in favor of the women-only carriages," said Kaori Noguchi, 31, an office worker who was waiting for a Tokyu Denentoshi Line train. "I can kind of understand that men feel uncomfortable about the carriages, like they're being accused of something they haven't done, but they have to put themselves in the position of the victims. Then they'd also want the carriages."
"Is it discrimination against men? Yes, it is discrimination," said Shoichi Yokoyama, 36, who was about to take a Toei Shinjuku Line train. "But groping is terrible, and while the issue is complicated by cases of hoaxers, I think that if women are going to feel reassured riding the women-only carriages, then basically the idea is a good one."
Erika Watanabe, 18, was waiting for a JR Saikyo Line train at Akabane Station.
"I'm sort of in favor of the women-only cars. It's certainly better riding them because men are so tall, which makes it difficult to breathe on packed trains during rush hour," she said. "Men might say it's discrimination, but I say that while there are chikan, it can't be helped."
Also waiting on the platform at Akabane Station was Mitsuhiko Takahashi, 21.
"Well, on balance I'm in favor [of women-only carriages], but I have to say that the other cars are more crowded than before and when I look over at the women-only carriage it never looks that full," he said. "But I heard that on the Saikyo Line there are a lot of gropers so I think the carriages are needed. I guess it's the women who fear chikan the most who ride the women-only carriages, so in that sense I guess they're useful. But you can hardly say it's the most efficient way to distribute passengers on a train."
Natsumi Matsubara, 40, was waiting for a Saikyo Line train.
"I'm in favor of the women-only carriages because I can now ride the train without that feeling of dread," she said.
Regarding the prevalence of revealing or pornographic images of women on trains, in magazines, comics or ad posters, Matsubara had the following comment: "The porn you see on the train makes you feel bad, but to be honest, after getting the women-only carriages, I don't think as a woman I can now ask for a porn-free environment on the train. I'm just satisfied to have the new cars."
Shin Fujiwara, 38, was looking to catch a train on the Keio Line.
"Because women-only cars are positioned quite inconveniently, a lot of women don't use them," he said. "Now the question is this: Are those women riding the regular carriages now more likely to be groped?"
Kyoko Hasegawa, 16, was waiting for a JR Rinkai Line train.
"I agree [with the introduction of the carriages] because now I can ride the train in safety," she said. "Some of the men on the regular carriages are really scary. Once something awful happened to me on the train, and it's stayed with me as a terrible memory. When men talk about discrimination and about not having the women-only carriages, I want them to remember that there are some really nasty people out there."
Chie Wakabayashi, 27, was standing on the platform at JR Sangenjaya Station.
"I'm in favor of the women-only carriages, but I don't think one is enough. They really get packed," she said "There should be a men-only carriage, too, then that would be the end of the discrimination issue.
"At the end of the day, though, this is only a treatment of the symptoms of the problem. The chikan are still out there and we can't pretend they've gone away just because of these carriages."
(Some names in this article have been changed on request.)
(Jul. 9, 2005)
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