Crackdown on commuter gropers

 It is one of the safest cities in the world, but for teenage girls and young women, travelling on Tokyo’s vast train and subway system comes with the ever-present risk of sexual harassment from fellow commuters.

But this week the Japanese capital’s police launched a crackdown on the scourge of groping. In the first reported case, Tsutomu Yamane, 30, was arrested with minutes of allegedly groping a 15-year-old girl on Monday morning.

Undercover police officers have been dispatched to notorious train lines across Tokyo in a new offensive against chikan, a catch-all term that covers groping, sexual rubbing and surreptitious mobile phone photography. The introduction almost a decade ago of women-only carriages during the morning and evening rush hours failed to put an end to Japan’s chikan plague, despite warnings that convicted gropers face up to six months in prison and a fine of up to 500,000 yen (£3,300).

The police in Tokyo make between 1,500 and 1,800 arrests a year, and have recorded more than 700 cases in the first six months of this year.

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