Women also allowed onboard.

Several trains in Japan have women-only cars during rush hour, established as a response to chikan, as gropers who take advantage of crowded conditions on commuter trains are called. This weekend, though, Tokyo is also getting a train with a “men-only car.”

It’s the brainchild of the Japan Weak Men’s Center, a Tokyo-based non-government organization. The group says that its intent in designating a train car for men to ride in is to raise awareness that there are men who are sexually victimized by women, as well as men who feel distressed riding trains because they fear they will be falsely accused of groping a female passenger following unintended physical contact as passengers are pressed together on crowded trains.

The “men-only car,” as it’s being called, will run on the Tokyo Sakura Tram, also known as the Toden Arakawa Line, Tokyo’s last remaining streetcar line. Rather than being a policy decision from the rail operator, though, the “men-only car” is coming about by way of the Japan Weak Men’s Center renting out an entire train (the tram’s trains are a single-carriage format) on November 18. And despite the “men-only car” name, the organizers say that anyone, regardless of gender, is welcome to ride, as long as they agree with the purpose of the event.

The “men’s only car” will depart from Minowabashi Station in Tokyo’s Arakawa Ward on November 18 at 1 p.m., and will travel the length of the line and arrive at Waseda Station, in Shinjuku Ward, at 1:50. Capacity is limited to “roughly 30” passengers, who are asked to gather at Minowabashi Station by 12:45, with tickets distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

▼ The route

Though at first glance the idea might look like an indirect protest of women-only train cars, that actually doesn’t seem to be the case, judging from a statement from the Center that says “Women-only cars are absolutely necessary so that they can feel secure and safe while riding. Such cars should be provided not just at rush hour, but at all times.”

At the same time, a men-only train car is an odd choice of venue to raise awareness of men who are sexually victimized by women. While the Japan Weak Men’s Center says it receives calls from men who are suffering from domestic violence from their wives, no cases of women groping men on crowded trains have been reported in recent memory.

The Tokyo Sakura Tram passes through one of the less densely developed parts of downtown Tokyo, and has been rendered largely obsolete by newer train lines, and with the “men’s only car” running just once on a Saturday afternoon, it’s unlikely to cause much of a transit disruption.

Source: Sankei News via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Wikipedia/DAJF
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