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JR East develops anti-groper app that allows victim to alert train conductor

JR East plans to launch an anti-groper smartphone app in June (NHK)
TOKYO (TR) – East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) later this year plans to release a smartphone app that will assist in the reduction of groping incidents inside its train carriages, reports NHK (Feb. 7).

By pressing a button on the app, a victim of chikan, or groping, will send a notification to a tablet carried by the train conductor.

The conductor will then make an announcement inside the train, notifying all passengers about the situation and what car number it is transpiring inside. Other persons using the same application will also be notified.

According to JR East, a specific car can be identified through GPS, which makes it is possible to narrow the target area and send an alert.

The company says that the aim is to reduce the number of molestation incidents by alerting those around a particular victim, even if the victim does not speak up voluntarily.

There were 2,800 molestation incidents inside train carriages nationwide in 2018 (NHK)

Molestation incidents

According to the National Police Agency, there were 2,800 molestation incidents inside train carriages nationwide in 2018.

In those cases, the perpetrators were accused of violating local public nuisance ordinances. For indecent assault, the figure was 260.

Though the figure is on the decline — before 2016, the number of public nuisance violations exceeded 3,000 — JR East still feels the situation is a concern.

Ask the people around them for help

Testing of the app began in February between Omiya and Shinjuku stations on the JR Saikyo Line. Should the app be easy to use, passengers will be able to use it on the Saikyo in June.

“It is said that molestation victims cannot readily ask the people around them for help,” said JR East chairman Yuji Fukasawa. “By lowering that hurdle, we want to prevent molestations with the implementation of this app.”