Severe Criticism on Groping in Japan

Sexual molestation in Japan is in the spotlight as women around the world go public with their personal experiences of assaults expressed through the online "#Me Too" movement.

Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera reported that Japanese authorities are not doing enough against sexual harassment and groping. It says every Japanese girl has been a victim of such behavior.

A book titled "TCHIKAN" published in France last year was also picked up by more than 50 media organizations in the country. In it, the author, a Japanese woman, writes about her experiences of being molested on trains for 6 years since the age of 12. She recalls how her breasts, back, and buttocks were repeatedly touched, and the feel of his sweaty hand on the nape of her neck. She writes she could not stop her knees from shaking.

A reporter from France Television says it was shocking to learn from the book that during rush hour, more than 80 percent of passengers are men, and that they include gropers.

The reporter also says it was surprising that young girls experience such distress, and that they are not helped by anyone and left to fend for themselves.

In 2016, 3,217 arrests were made over groping in Japan. But the actual number of cases is believed to be much larger, as many victims hesitate to come forward.

Internet posts by apparent gropers popped up online ahead of nation-wide university entrance exams early this month. They said, "Tomorrow will be a perfect day for groping." "Let's attack exam takers because they can't get off the train and be late for their exams."

Groping has a higher recidivism rate than other criminal offenses

A serial groper in his 30s agreed to an interview with NHK. He first groped a woman when he was in his first year of junior high school. He has since been arrested nearly 20 times.

He says every time he was arrested, he vowed never to do it again. But when he is on a crowded train and people around him are unlikely to notice, he cannot control the urge to grope.

The Penal Code was revised last year to impose heavier punishments on sex offenders. Efforts are also being made from a medical standpoint to address the issue.

Medical experts say some offenders suffer from a condition known as paraphilia. Doctor Masayuki Ohishi says not all groping cases are caused by paraphilia, but repeat offenders are considered as having the condition.

He says such people think they can stop anytime, but their self-control grows weaker the more they do it. He also says for offenders to be rehabilitated, their determination to stop is necessary, but this doesn't guarantee success -- they need the conditions to put their vow into practice. He says they need to seek medical treatment.

His clinic has treated more than 200 offenders. It provides psychological treatment to end their distorted desires.

A man who served time in prison twice is being treated through the "conditional reflex method." It involves repeating keywords or phrases such as "I am not capable of problematic behavior." The man is training to suppress his sexual urges by gripping a talisman bracelet his sister gave him whenever such desires appear.

He says each time he looks at his sister's gift, he renews his resolve of staying out of prison. He says it makes him remember his family, who he doesn't want to let down.

Ohishi says reaching out to offenders is a key to reduce groping cases. He says many offenders repeat groping dozens or even hundreds of times, so when one of them stops, there will be 100 fewer victims. He stresses the need to reduce the number of offenders by giving them medical treatment.