Is It Illegal For Men to Ride Women-Only Carriage in Japan?

The platform signs indicating women-only carriages in Tokyo.

The platform signs indicating women-only carriages in Tokyo.

The ‘women-only’ carriage often seen on busy commuter trains in Japan can seem somewhat mysterious to those who visit Japan from other countries. The carriage, however, was created in response to rising numbers of groping incidents to protect women during the rush hour, where bodies are packed together tightly.

But recently the number of men who disagree with having carriages exclusively for women during times when commuters are so crammed together they can barely move have increased, as have the number of dissenting voices who believe that women-only carriages are actually discriminatory to men.

This has led one reporter to ask a lawyer’s opinion on whether it is actually illegal for men to ride the women-only carriage, particularly when it seems emptier than all the other carriages. Netizen responses are translated below the article.

From Bengoshi.com:

Is it Illegal For a Man to Ride the ‘Women Only Carriage’ on Commuter Trains?

It’s possible for there to be all sorts of trouble on the train.

‘It’s a bother. I’m uncomfortable, so please get off the train’, ‘I didn’t realise that this was a women-only carriage’. The cries fly around the train. A scene from a film released on a video-sharing site. From time to time trouble arises in the commuter train ‘women-only carriage’.

As a rule, only women can ride the women-only carriage, and it is enforced during commuting hours when the trains are crowded on central trains that run through the centre of Tokyo. The purpose of this is to prevent nuisance, namely groping incidents.

Is a 'women-only' carriage discrimination against men?

Is a ‘women-only’ carriage discrimination against men?

Be this as it may, some men still dare to ride in women-only carriages, and they are glared at by the women around them; depending on the situation, there have also been cases where this has developed into an argument. Men like this insist that ‘Whether you ride the women-only carriage or not is up to you, and even if a man does get on, then there is no reason it should be an issue’, and ‘There is only a women-only carriage, and the fact that there is no men-only carriage is discrimination against men’

So is it actually illegal for a man to ride the women-only carriage? We asked lawyer Motohashi Kazuki.

● ‘The Women-Only Carriage is Built On Passengers’ Understanding and Cooperation’.

The Keio-Teito Electric Railway, which as the first railway in Japan to introduce women-only carriages, announces on its homepage with regard to
these carriages that: ‘We ask for everyone’s understanding and cooperation’. On other private lines and the JR lines, too, the expression is almost exactly the same.

Having cited the explanations of the railway companies themselves, Motohashi explained in the following way about their meaning.

‘The point is, that the women-only carriage is something which is based on the understanding and cooperation of other passengers (male passengers), and it is certainly not something that involves the compulsory exclusion of male passengers. By this, I mean that those running the railway companies are to the very end requesting the cooperation of male passengers, and there is also no legal basis for prohibiting male passengers riding the carriage.

That is to say, that the fact that male passengers don’t ride the women-only carriage is based on ‘voluntary cooperation’, and is not prohibited by law.

An example of a special 'women-only' carriage, featuring 'Hello Kitty'.

An example of a special ‘women-only’ carriage, featuring ‘Hello Kitty’.

‘Accordingly, there is nothing illegal about men riding the women-only carriage’, concludes Motohashi.

When we asked JR East Japan about men riding the women only carriage, it appears that the company asks that ‘men refrain from doing so’, but that ‘they are not prohibited from doing so by law or by the terms of carriage’. Furthermore, they stated that ‘Men want us to abolish the women-only carriage, and conversely women would rather that we increased the number of lines we have’.

Therefore, the current situation is that there are pros and cons surrounding the women-only carriage. If we take it that this special carriage is based on the ‘understanding and cooperation of passengers’, then it is necessary for railway companies to patiently explain this, just as they ask for the understanding of the male passengers who are dissatisfied with it.

Comments from Yahoo! Japan:

ディアブロ(iwa…)さん:

At any rate, women want everyone to get crammed into that carriage. The women only-carriage is completely empty.

びりーとれまいく(bmt…)さん:

I wouldn’t stand for it if it became illegal! When I’ve ridden it by accident it was majorly awkward though…(笑)

じゅびろかしはら(kas…)さん:

It’s more a question of morals than law.

ngs*sei*o*ha(ngs…)さん:

Those bastards saying that it’s discrimination against men are just weird. I’m in complete agreement with the women-only carriage. I don’t want to get caught up in unnecessary trouble.

髭の無い次元(was…)さん:

I reckon that those twats (men) who go out of their way to ride the women-only carriage are probably trouble-makers in their day-to-day lives, too.

河童ベイビー(kap…)さん:

I wonder how those idiots who said they didn’t know how that ‘Kawaii ward’ thing could be sexual discrimination look at the women-only carriage?

chisato(sne…)さん:

Of course there are laws, but before that there were moral manners. Don’t behave like the Chinese!

ブルーザー・クラッシャー(bru…)さん:

This just encourages women who are aware of their human rights to become monsters.

tdy**yah3(tdy…)さん:

I think it’s quite alright if we have women-only carriages, but I want women to use them properly. Those who use them are virtually all ‘safe people’, and why do people who ‘look like they’d get groped’ just ride the normal crowded carriages? I always think ‘get over there [to the women-only carriage]!’ because there is a completely empty special-use carriage.

ROXY(chi…)さん:

Their anger should be directed toward chikan [gropers]. I was so anxious about chikan when I was a high-school girl and during my university days. Those idiots who grope girls are the ones in the wrong.

d(dea…)さん:

I mean it’s no joke if you get falsely accused [of being a groper]! Stuff everyone on board, please.

tetenryuryu(tet…)さん:

I won’t ride the women-only carriage.

素人ジョガー(jog…)さん:

Why would it be illegal, anyway? Why would you be arrested for riding the train? Even an idiot could see that.

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  • Ruaraidh

    Simple, stop molesting women and the female only carriages can stop. I bet if there were a load of gay guys grabbing random cocks on the tube, those same men who are against women only carriages would be calling for no homo carriages.

    • Relivash

      They said groping, not molesting

      • http://www.youtube.com/user/VictimOfBoredom Matt

        Groping is molesting.

      • Brett

        You’re an idiot.

    • Kate

      Exactly, it isn’t discrimination its protection from men sexually assualting and molesting women whom deserve to be treated like human beings and not some object to be molested and used for the sexual deviations of a sicko.

      • Hongwu Emperor

        It’s easy, put everyone in ‘equal’ gender carriage and castrate those who are reported as abusers/molestors.

        If japan never had ‘taijian’ its time to have some!!

        • G$

          Don’t they or didn’t they used to have rampant problems with false groping reports being lodged by women?

          • besudesu

            It wasn’t rampant, but there were cases where false reports were made. Part of the reason for this is how crowded the trains are. The women were most certainly groped, but they sometimes identified the wrong man as the assailant.

  • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

    If they make it illegal, how will they deal with foreigners who don’t realize such a car exists?
    http://friedchickenandsushi.com/comics/2011/10/27/fcs164-staring-down-the-ladies.html

  • Butsu

    I actually rode in one once, on purpous. I’ve spent the whole day in Nara during heavy rain, was really tired, and the only car with seats where the woman only car, there wasn’t even women in it at the time. My group (4 guys and 1 girl) sat there till it got filled up with women, then it started to get embarrasing so we changed. Except for the girl who got all angry that we left her alone haha.

  • YourSupremeCommander

    What if during rush hr in the evening the train is packed with dudes but the chick car is mostly empty? Instead of jamming myself into other smelly dudes, you bet your ass that I am getting me a seat in the chick car, no doubt. Cause that’s how I roll!

    • dim mak

      You gon get arrested

      • Hongwu Emperor

        lol, and then they say China govt oppresses people…

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Smith/100003026114865 John Smith

      If the cars are too crowded for your liking, then get out and wait for the next one. Nobody’s forcing you to ride in a crowded train car.

    • VoiceofReason

      That’s what I do, too. I live in Japan, I pay my taxes like everyone else, and I pay the same price for my train tickets as the ladies do. I ain’t a groper and I can ride where I please. Deal with it ladies.

  • bluesummers

    Men should start groping each other to initiate a mens-only carriage.
    Just sayin’, man

  • Whirly Pop

    I don’t think it should be illegal, they should just implement this strictly. Have security assist or warn the men if they’re getting in the wrong carriage. There’s also something like that where I live, but one or two guys sometimes still make their way through because of how busy it all is. Because its very packed, you get squished together and its very uncomfortable especially when you feel like the man is becoming conscious about stuff.

  • dim mak

    >Pitiful betas resort to menial bullshit for titillation

    Get a girlfriend instead

    • bluesummers

      They wouldn’t be betas if they had girlfriends in the first place.

    • Lili Little

      Is beta a racial slur? I’m not use to seeing it used in the same context that it seems to be used on JapanCrush.

      • http://www.youtube.com/user/VictimOfBoredom Matt

        Yes, “Beta” refers to the Betanese people of Bhetan, situated along the Himalayas, bordered by China and India. The Bhetanese migrated to Taiwan centuries ago and are known for their consumption of “Betel nuts” (properly called the areca nut), and they supported Japan during the Japanese colonization of Taiwan, and in the post-war era, many have since migrated to Japan, where they are known as “Betas”.

        • Lili Little

          Thank you!

        • dk2020

          I thought it was internet slang for inferior .. alpha to the beta .. I think most people online think of it like that because I’ve never heard of Betanese people before.. interesting ..

          • http://www.youtube.com/user/VictimOfBoredom Matt

            Woops, I passed the fine line of sarcastic subtlety…

            It was somewhat of a pun on the (real) country of Bhutan.

        • mr.wiener

          Couldn’t find any info on that anywhere [but hey, I've lived in Taiwan 14 years and am always finding new and weird nuggets of information] Do you have any sources for that ,kind sir , or are you pulling our legs?

          • http://www.youtube.com/user/VictimOfBoredom Matt

            I’m afraid your leg has been pulled. *apologize*

          • mr.wiener

            Lol , nice one…just the right amount of fact for a decent piss take, you had me doubting with the betel nut part though.

    • animelover420

      lmao nice avatar.

  • nintendo-nerd

    Japanese women love to be groped and touched on packed trains..
    they seem to enjoy it in those pornos where they are doing a bunch of men at one
    time lol

    • Kate

      I hope this is sarcasm, but I know there are men who have little interaction with real life women and expect real women to be like porn stars…its very sad and disturbing.

      • Hongwu Emperor

        the bad influence some movies bring…

      • nintendo-nerd

        if only I was in Japan right now, then I would …. ;)

    • Slinky

      The call of the stupid porn-obsessed virgin.

      Such a lonely sound.

  • Ray

    I had to ride on those carriages when I was in Japan on a holiday, because I went with a party of girls and they are trolls and always picked those carriages and force me to follow them.

  • linette lee

    It’s not fair that women have their own carriage and men have to cramp into the other carriages. o.k, so make it the woman and family only carriage. Let women and family like parents with kids use the carriage. Those seats are for kids,grandparents,and prego. Let the women stand.

    • Hongwu Emperor

      Instead of doing gender-specific subwat carriages, which seems a thing straight-off some wacky sci-fi version of Afghanistan, they should invest more on benches/seats for disabled,kids,elderly [spec. in Japan right?].

    • Rayna

      Yes it is fair. People of a certain gender who get groped have a right to not be groped.

  • linette lee

    It will be nice if they have signs everywhere like “Will you kindly please give the seats to children, elderly, disabled, pregnant women. :)

  • Hongwu Emperor

    And those guys actually have the FACE of talking crap about the Middle East and the woman/men segregation…

  • god

    in the international it says that all are created equal and should be treated as equal. so it is discrimination against men. now poor fellas get taken away just being in the vicinity of a highschool girl not doing anything at all. they should make a men only carriage to protect them from the women. and then the thing about groping. so its bad when a woman gets groped. but when a guy gets groped its perfectly fine? no its just as bad. just saying that there are female gropers out there too. but if the guys go to the police they dont even take the guy serious. so its very messed up. i say guys go and stand up for your rights and go into that female only carriage. if there are enough of you there then you dont have to feel ackward either

    • god

      correction international law

    • Cyberia

      Uh, except for the fact that your completely ignoring statistics. Which gender gets groped more often again? Think little brain, think!

      • god

        so you’re saying that just because it gets reported less by men. their rights dont count? thats like discriminating against minorities

    • strmv

      Men get groped by women on trains? I have to go back to Japan.

  • Cyberia

    “Of course there are laws, but before that there were moral manners. Don’t behave like the Chinese!”

    LMAO. Of course, it’s CHINA that has the problem with sexism. I love how these idiots always deflect the issue by talking about some other country.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Smith/100003026114865 John Smith

    If the rape and murder of a young woman on a bus in India doesn’t make someone wake up to the reality of sexual assault, then nothing will. Those who don’t get the point are probably scum who want to rape women.

    There’s a reason Japan and other countries (Taiwan, the Philippines, Brazil, et al) have women-only cars. It’s not to inconvenience or discriminate against men.

  • VoiceofReason

    I pay the same price as other customers, I can ride in whichever car I please, and that’s that. I’m sorry if this makes some ladies uncomfortable, but it is discriminatory to ask me not to ride in certain cars.

    If ladies had to pay a little extra for a special ticket though, I wouldn’t have any complaints.

  • Alice Pan

    Wow, can’t even try to provide a safety zone for women tired of being groped without some whiny men making it all about themselves once again.

  • Lulu

    I think if men keep their hands crossed on top of their heads, they should be allowed into the women only carriage. Also if they sit with their legs crossed when they are next to a woman.

    Sad that groping is such a huge problem in Tokyo. My uncle is from Hong Kong and he said he always keep his hands crossed over his chest during rush hour to avoid any misunderstanding from women sitting next to him.

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