Train Groping and Wrongful Convictions in Japan

Since commuter trains in urban areas are unbelievably crowded in Japan, there have been problems of groping (“chikan“) on these trains, especially during the morning rush hours.

Not surprisingly, there have been many cases where people were wrongfully arrested or even convicted as the groper. Once arrested, it is extremely difficult to prove one’s innocence since there typically is no evidence other than the victim’s testimony. Read more about the problem of groping and wrongful convictions here (an article from the Japan Times Online).

Below is a recent article from the Mainichi Newspapers about a case currently being fought to win a retrial in a train groping case.

From the Mainichi Online:

Court questions man seeking retrial in train groping case

The Tokyo District Court on Jan. 31 made the rare move of summoning an elderly man for questioning during his request for a retrial in a molestation case over which he has already served prison time.

Usually retrial requests are screened on paper, and it is unusual to directly question a former defendant. Lawyers for the 70-year-old man, whose name is being withheld, said they and prosecutors are due to submit their final opinions on the case to the district court at the end of February.

According to the ruling that sent the man, a former teacher, to prison, he faced charges of indecent assault on suspicion of groping a 19-year-old woman’s private parts on a train on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line in March 2005.

During his trial, the former teacher said it was impossible for him to commit the crime because an illness had given him a disability in his fingers. He added that the man who apprehended him did not see the face of the culprit in the crowded train, and he pleaded his innocence. In February 2007, however, the Tokyo District Court rejected his arguments and sentenced him to one year and 10 months in prison.

In February 2011, while he was serving his prison sentence, he requested a retrial, submitting a medical specialist’s opinion as new evidence. The opinion stated that he had an intractable disease called generalized scleroderma that caused his skin and organs to harden, making it impossible for him to commit the crime in the state his hands were in.

Lawyers for the man said that he had had a stroke and appeared in court on Jan. 31 in a wheelchair. At some points during the hearing, he was unable to speak, and the questioning process was conducted with breaks, extending the process.

Lawyers quoted the man as telling the court, “I want to restore my honor while I’m alive. I want a not guilty sentence to be handed down as soon as possible.”

February 01, 2013(Mainichi Japan)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s