How Safe Is Public Transportation in Japan?

Japan is famed for its lightning-fast trains, but even in a world where time has taken on ever-increasing importance, safety still comes first. For many women, that means fending off the straying hands of men on crowded commuter trains. Screaming doesn't really work, and suggestions of stabbing offenders with safety pins didn't fly, but in 2019, a company finally came to the rescue. Shachihata Inc. began by offering 500 sets of an invisible-ink stamp that can be applied to a groper's hand. An hour after they went on the market, they were sold out. Yayoi Matsunaga, who runs the Chikan Yokushi Katsudo Center (Groping Prevention Activities Center), called the product "very meaningful," but cautioned that it was too soon to say how well it will help stop the unwanted advances. Still, she added that even as an initial effort, the stamp “should have a big impact on society, which could lead to deterrence." In their first iteration, the stamps sold for 2,500 yen ($23 USD), but Shachihata said it is working on revamping the product based on user feedback.

Riding the rails in Japan:

  • Tokyo's Shinjuku Station is considered the busiest railroad station in the world, serving 3.6 million riders every day.
  • Shikoku's Tsushimanomiya Station is open only on August 4th and 5th every year, as part of an annual summer festival.
  • During rush hour, railroad attendants push passengers onto crowded trains to help speed up commutes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How safe is public transportation in Japan compared to other countries?

Public transportation in Japan is renowned for its safety, often ranking among the safest in the world. According to the Safe Cities Index by The Economist Intelligence Unit, Tokyo, which has a vast public transport network, consistently ranks at the top for overall safety, including personal security. Factors contributing to this include low crime rates, well-maintained infrastructure, and a strong culture of respect and orderliness among passengers.

What measures are in place to ensure safety on Japanese public transportation?

Japan's public transportation systems employ various safety measures, including constant monitoring through CCTV cameras, presence of well-trained staff, and emergency communication systems. Additionally, Japan Railways and other operators conduct regular earthquake and disaster drills, given Japan's susceptibility to natural disasters. The meticulous attention to maintenance and punctuality also minimizes the risk of accidents and incidents.

Are there specific safety features for women on Japanese public transportation?

Yes, Japan has implemented women-only carriages during peak hours on many trains and subway lines to prevent sexual harassment and provide a sense of security for female passengers. These carriages are clearly marked and are usually available during the morning and evening rush hours. This initiative has been widely accepted and is part of Japan's commitment to enhancing safety for all passengers.

How does Japan handle public transportation safety during natural disasters?

Japan is highly prepared for natural disasters, with public transportation systems designed to withstand earthquakes and other events. Trains have an automatic stop system triggered by seismic activity, and there are strict building codes for infrastructure. In the event of a disaster, transportation staff are trained to guide passengers to safety, and information is promptly provided through announcements and electronic displays.

What should tourists know about using public transportation safely in Japan?

Tourists should be aware that Japan's public transportation is reliable and user-friendly, with signage often available in English. It's important to follow local etiquette, such as queuing orderly and not talking loudly on phones. For personal safety, keep an eye on belongings, though crime is rare. In case of emergencies, emergency buttons are available on trains and stations, and staff are generally helpful and efficient in providing assistance.

More Info: The Japan Times

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