Concept receives stronger support from female commuters in the Tokyo area than males, with those in favor giving two primary reasons.

Japanese trains are internationally famous for three things: being amazingly punctual, startlingly crowded, and distressingly the place where chikan, men who grope other passengers, operate. The second and third characteristics are related, since chikan often take advantage of the packed conditions to make it harder for victims to identify or confront them.

In an effort to alleviate the problem, some rail operators in major cities designate certain train cars as being for female passengers only during the morning and evening rush hours. But a recent survey by Japanese research organization Macromill decided to turn things around and ask commuters how they’d feel about male-only train cars.

Macromill polled a total of 500 train commuters living in Tokyo and the neighboring prefectures of Kanagawa, Chiba, and Saitama, home to many people who ride into the city for work or school each day. Respondents’ ages ranged from 15 to 59, and 242 were women.

When asked whether trains should introduce cars for men only, the majority of the women polled, 73.9 percent, expressed support for such a move.

Should men-only train cars be introduced?
● Absolutely yes: 13.6 percent of female respondents
● Yes: 60.3 percent
● No: 25.6 percent
● Absolutely not: 0.4 percent

However, while roughly the same proportion of men were strongly in favor of all-male cars, overall the concept was less popular with male respondents, though 65.1 percent still said they agreed with the idea.

Should men-only train cars be introduced?
● Absolutely yes: 14.3 percent of male respondents
● Yes: 50.8 percent
● No: 30.6 percent
● Absolutely not: 4.3 percent

The rationale of those who are in favor of all-male cars fell into two general categories: chikan and equality. Regarding the former, women said they felt that all-male cars would decrease the likelihood of groping. Meanwhile, men who like the idea of having a car just for the guys said they would benefit by eliminating the chance that a woman would mistakenly interpret inadvertent physical contact in a crowded train as them purposely copping a feel. As for equality, there were both male and female respondents who simply felt it’s unfair for there to be women-only cars, but not men-only ones.

It’s worth pointing out though, that women-only cars in Japan are voluntary. Women can choose between using them or the mixed-gender cars, and ostensibly the same would apply for men if male-only cars were introduced. As such, it seems unlikely that men being able to sequester themselves with other male commuters would do much to cut down on male-on-female train groping, since chikan would be the men least interested in exercising their option to distance themselves from women on the train.

That leaves “not being mistaken for a chikan” as the primary upside of male-only cars, and while the potential for such a misunderstanding is something certain commuters worry about, it isn’t something Japanese society, as a whole, is significantly concerned with, and this is likely why train cars just for men have yet to be introduced in Japan.

Source: Macromill via Nico Nico News via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso