What Does Chikan Mean in Japan

Chikan is a word that has different meanings in different parts of Asia.

Its meaning in Southern Asia differs from its meaning in other climes.

In Japan, the meaning of Chikan is particularly negative. It refers to a person (usually a man) who touches, rubs, assaults, or gropes others (mostly women) in crowds or on public transport, to gain sexual satisfaction.

This act has been perpetrated in Japan for a long time, and a permanent solution hasn’t been found. Here’s what you should know about the meaning of Chikan and how to handle such situations.

Chikan in Japan.

Sexual assault has become a big issue worldwide, and Japan isn’t left out. The act of Chikan is a very big menace in Japan. Many women and men have had to go through this experience, and some have remained and suffered in silence.

Women and young girls cannot comfortably wait for trains and cars at the train station without the fear of being harassed and molested. Women are sometimes molested not just because of how they dress but because the men feel the need to show their power and masculinity.

Although many victims experience Chikan on trains and cars, it also happens at work and even on the streets. Chikan isn’t just a threat to women and children; it is a menace to the whole society and should not be taken lightly.

Where is Chikan perpetrated the Most?

In Japan, trains are considered a major means of transportation, and many Japanese people use them. According to a report, more than 50 percent of Chikan cases occurred on trains, and 20 percent occurred in train stations.

In big cities like Osaka, Kobe, Saitama, Kanagawa, and Tokyo, the train stations are always packed with people during rush hours; this gives Chikan molesters the opportunity to carry out this despicable act.

The molesters monitor their target until they get into the trains and then strike. The results from a survey done by train companies show that trains in Tokyo are filled to 150% of the maximum capacity during rush hour, while in Kobe and Osaka, the trains are filled to 120%-130% of their maximum capacity.

Due to how packed the train stations are, people are sandwiched together, struggling to get a space on the train, and in that process, chikan molesters follow their target. The trains are often very crowded, giving Chikan molesters the perfect opportunity to grope their targets.

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How does Chikan carry out their activities?

Chikan are very particular about their positions on the train and the position of their targets on the train. There are some positions that potential targets can stay in that will make it very easy for Chikan molesters to carry out their plans.

One of such positions is the corner close to the entrance doors. If a target is standing at this point, the Chikan molester can easily strike because the victim is in a very tight corner that it is difficult for them to escape or move sideways. Since they cannot move, they become trapped, and the Chikan molester can grope without being noticed.

The middle part of the car end is also another good point for Chikan molesters because it is hidden, and other passengers cannot see anything.

What time does Chikan in Japan happen most?

Because of the mode of operation of Chikan molesters, they operate during rush hours in the morning and the evening.

Statistics of the Tokyo metropolitan police department in Japan show that 1,750 cases of Chikan molestation were reported in 2017 had 30 percent of this molestation occurring between 7 and 9 am during the morning rush hours and the other part occurring during the evening rush hours after the close of work.

What do Chikan Molesters Look out for in a target?

When there are cases of rape or chikan molestation, the woman is always blamed for dressing provocatively, but this is not the truth. Most Chikan molesters still molest women who are modestly dressed. They look out for targets who appear calm, quiet, and unassuming.

Ayako Uchiyama carried out research, and in that research, it was discovered that less than 5 percent of Chikan molesters said they noticed their target because they dressed provocatively.

About 48 percent of the offenders said their target was picked because of their calm demeanor and meek appearance. People who looked like they wouldn’t be able to do anything to the molesters.

Chikan molesters mostly lookout for these people who look quiet because they know people like this are unlikely to express themselves, so they are sure they wouldn’t be caught. They also target Elementary and junior high school students because they are young and naive, and most times, they go to school without an elderly figure which makes them prone to molestation.

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What do Chikan molesters do to their targets?

Most of these molestations happen on the train because the journey could be quite long, and most times, the victims are ashamed to speak up or try to avoid being known by other passengers. Some also occur on the streets where the victim can not get immediate help. Some of the things Chikan molesters do include;

  1. They can attempt to undo your bra hooks or shirt’s button.
  2. Sometimes, they can sit next to you and pretend to be sleeping while molesting you.
  3. They can force you to touch their genitals.
  4. They can sexually touch you.
  5. They can whisper sexual words or show you pornographic images.
  6. They can attempt to pull up your skirts or cut your clothes.

All these can be stopped if the victims stand up to the molesters.

What Can Victims of Chikan molesters do to stop them

The most important thing any victim can do is to speak up. Don’t be silent or ashamed; the molesters are the ones that are supposed to be ashamed and not the victim. You can loudly shout “stop touching my body” or do something that will attract the attention of other passengers.

You can also report to the relevant authorities, and other passengers can stand as your witnesses. You can also stand in a position where it will be easy to see the molesters.

The Osaka police on their website suggested that the safest place on the train to avoid Chikan is to stand in front of the passenger seats.

At this position, other passengers can see any action the molester is attempting to take. It is also the best point to stand to avoid molestation. However, if you are unable to do any of the things stated above, you can try any of these;

  1. Carry a security buzzer and keep it handy.
  2. Avoid following the same path every day. This will make it difficult for molesters to track you.
  3. Always hold a newspaper or book in your hand.
  4. Ring the mobile call noise when you are being harassed to attract attention from other passengers.
  5. Use the women-only passenger cars if you can.
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What measures have been put in place to curb Chikan in Japan

During the “me too” movement, women spoke up, narrating their stories until it came to the knowledge of the government and those in authority. The train companies and the government began to put stringent measures to curb this menace.

Women-only train cars at peak rush hours were introduced so that women could ride in the company of other women. Cameras were also installed inside trains, and some warning signs were put up in trains and cars.

Signs read “Chikan is a crime” and “Beware of Chikan.”

The first sign warns men to deviate from this activity, while the second sign warns people (mostly women and children and, in some rare cases, men) to be careful to avoid being a victim of this crime.

In 2002, the first women-only compartment service started. The trains are situated in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba. The train companies also run women-only cars every weekday in the Kansai area.


Chikan is such a despicable act and shouldn’t be condoned by both the victims and the authorities. Women should speak up and not be ashamed, as it is the place of the molester to be ashamed and not the victim. Victims should speak up, shout, and make a noise to draw the attention of others. If you find yourself in such a position, make sure you aren’t silent because staying silent can give the molesters more ground to perpetrate this act. The relevant government and security authorities need to make sure women’s rights are protected, and offenders should be given serious punishment to dissuade others from attempting such acts. Chikan can happen to anyone, so speak up and never stay silent.


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