Gropings Prompt Yokohama Schools to Demand Women-Only Trains

The severe groping problem faced by female students has prompted four Yokohama-area private girls’ schools to launch a petition demanding that East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) provide women-only train cars.

The petition drive has collected 10,000 signatures for a women’s car on the outbound trains on the JR Negishi Line from Yokohama to the Ofuna station in an affluent area near Kamakura. The four schools are Yokohama Jogakuin Girls School, Doremus School, Yokohama Futaba Gakuen and Ferris Girls’ Junior and Senior High School.

The petition drive was initiated last December by a member of the Yokohama Jogakuin student council. The school receives reports of about 10 groping incidents a year though it believes many more incidents go unreported. In April the school sought the cooperation of the other three girls’ schools which are all located near Ishikawacho Station on the Yokohama to Ofuna line. The schools have been collecting signatures from parents and other locals.

The vice principal of Yokohama Jogakuin said the groping incidents may scar the victims and cause them to develop a distrust of men.

Women-only cars have been introduced on some lines in the Tokyo area due to a pervasive groping problem during peak commuting hours. In 2010 JR introduced one on the Keihin-Tohoku-Negishi Line for trains from Ofuna to Tokyo’s Shinagawa Station during weekday morning rush hour.

JR’s Yokohama branch will consider introducing women-only cars from Yokohama to Ofuna stations once it receives the petition, a spokesman said.