If you’re not sure if that old man is really in need of assistance, you don’t have to be the one to help.

By now, most people are aware of the standard chikan (train groper) M.O. in Japan. Once the train gets crowded enough to obscure his actions or identity, the chikan starts squeezing, petting, prodding, or otherwise touching his victim, then makes his escape before she confronts him or anyone else notices and intervenes.

However, a recent post from Japanese Twitter user @nibocci is shining light on a less common, but still nefarious, ploy. Like the traditional chikan plan, it’s related to the public transportation network, but in a different way.

@nibocci says she was walking through a train station when an elderly man called out to her. “My legs hurt, so can you help me get into the train?” he asked, implying that he wanted her to physically assist him in boarding, ostensibly by letting him grab on to her as she helped lift him as he stepped from the platform into the carriage.

However, @nibocci recalled hearing chatter on Twitter about men running just this sort of scam as an excuse to press their bodies against that of young women. So instead of accommodating the stranger’s request she told him that she’d go find a station attendant to help him…at which point his legs suddenly recovered their strength. “0.5 seconds after I said I’d go get a station attendant, he said ‘Oh, then I’m OK, I’m OK’ and walked off,” @nibocci reports.

▼ It’s a miracle!

It’s definitely good news that @nibocci escaped any unwanted touching, but at the same time, it’s saddening and infuriating to think that there are people trying to take advantage of others’ compassionate and helpful nature. Still, providing assistance to travelers who need it, including boarding trains and navigating station walkways, is part of Japanese station workers’ job responsibilities, and something they’re usually happy to provide. If you’re ever in doubt or something about the request someone is making for help just doesn’t feel right, there’s no shame in referring them to the railway’s employees, or, if you’re feeling extra-nice, going and getting one for the person supposedly in need of assistance.

Other Twitter users reacted with:

“Chikan are absolutely unforgivable!”
“What kind of person do you have to be to come up with a sick scheme like that?”
“One time, when I was on my way home from cram school, this old guy in the station said ‘My back hurts, so let me lean on your shoulder as I walk.’…But then when I said I’d get a station worker, he said ‘In second thought, I think I’m OK’ and RAN away.”

This is also a good time to point out that in general, Japanese culture and society isn’t too keen on physical contact between strangers, so it’s probably a good idea to be on your guard if someone you’ve never met casually asks if they can grab onto you. And if you do want to tell them you’ll go get a station attendant, the phrase to use is “Ekiin wo yonde kimasu.”

Source: Twitter/@nibocci via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Pakutaso (edited by SoraNews24)
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