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One of the most infamous aspects of Japanese society are chikan, the men who surreptitiously grope women on crowded trains. One Japanese security company, though, has tweeted about what it says is a new breed of chikan: men who encroach on a woman’s personal space to sniff her scent.

Secom is one of Japan’s largest home and office security firms. So dedicated is the company to people’s well-being, though, that it sends out safety tips for all sorts of different situations from its official Twitter account.

Last week, Secom tweeted the following warning to its 272,000 followers.

“【A New Type of Chikan】 This is the Secom PR Department. A new type of chikan behavior has come about. They are called scent-sniffing chikan, or close-quarters chikan. Using a crowded space as a pretext, they will not touch the woman, but move very close to her in order to smell her scent. They will not touch the woman directly, but may press the bag they are carrying against her, and if these actions make the woman feel uncomfortable, then he is a chikan. Please be cautious on crowded trains, elevators, and escalators.”

Having a stranger deliberately sniff you or unilaterally decide for you to play the role of a slice of bread in his bag sandwich both sound like the incredibly inappropriate actions of a rather disturbed individual. Secom’s warning did have many online commenters worried about being falsely accused of being a scent-sniffing chikan, though. Especially in light of Secom’s assertion that no physical contact is necessary for the label, avoiding misplaced suspicion seems like it could be problematic in the locations listed. In urban Japan, trains, elevators, and escalators are often far too crowded to leave much of a buffer space between yourself and those around you, and rush hour trains are often so packed that people are literally pressed against one another.

Given that this seems to be the first time scent-sniffing chikan have been spoken of in the media, and that the term appears to have been coined by Secom itself, some have even accused the security company of fear-mongering in an effort to drum up business. Setting aside the validity or lack thereof of such a theory, the tweet at least highlights an unexpected upside of being stuck on a train with unshowered or flatulent passengers, in that you’re that less likely to give someone the wrong impression by sighing contentedly and whispering, “Ah, what a captivating fragrance.”

Source: Jin
Top image: Wikipedia/LERK