Insurance Against False Accusations of Groping Proves Popular in Japan

Japan women-only carriage
Women board a "women-only" train carriage, introduced to tackle groping on public transport, during morning rush hour in Tokyo in 2011. A Japanese insurer provides an increasingly popular policy covering legal costs for false groping claims. Yuriko Nakao/Reuters

A Japanese insurer providing coverage for people who want to defend themselves from accusations of groping has recorded a surge in demand over the last month.

Insurer provider Japan Shogaku Tanki Hoken recorded a spike in the demand for their insurance covering false accusations of groping, from several dozen a month until April to several hundred in May, Japanese newspaper The Mainichi reported.

The increase has come alongside a spike in cases of men accused of groping women on trains fleeing the scene, often delaying public transport as they disappear down the tracks.

In May, a man who was accused of groping a passenger was fatally hit by a train as he tried to escape on the tracks. A few days earlier, another man was found dead after fleeing the police station where he was held for questioning.

Sexual assault on public transport in Japan has been a serious issue for decades, so much so that more than ten years ago transport companies implemented women-only carriages to protect female commuters.

The word chikan, originally meaning groping in Japanese, is used by extention to talk about both the act of groping and then men who do it.

An increased awareness of the issue in recent months may have led to a surge in interest for insurance against false claims, which was first launched in September 2015 according to Japanese news website RocketNews 24.

Shogaku Tanki Hoken wanted to provide a cover for the risk of being falsely accused of chikan due to overcrowded transport conditions and was priced just 590 yen (US$4.90) a month, or 6,400 ($574) a year.

Policyholders—currently 80 percent male and 20 percent female—register for the service on their smartphone, so that they can send a distress signal to the insurer and receive legal support.

The policy won't cover the costs if the allegations turn out to be true and can only be used once to prevent repeated offenders from avoiding charges. The policy also covers legal consultation within a 48-hour period for those who are the victim of groping on trains.