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Sharp increase in people taking out 'false groping accusation' insurance

Aobadai Station on the Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line, where a man jumped onto the tracks and was hit by a train after being accused of groping, is pictured on May 16, 2017. (Mainichi)

Following the recent increase in alleged gropers running away along train tracks, there has also been a sudden jump in the number of people taking out an insurance policy that comes with a "false groping accusation benefit."

The insurance policy, which is offered by the Tokyo-based Japan Small Amount and Short Term Insurance Co., Ltd., provides immediate legal consultation to its policyholders if they find themselves accused of groping. The philosophy behind the service is thought to be "rather than run away, it is better to call a lawyer first."

The insurance firm set up a "helpline for people falsely accused of groping" in September 2015. It was set up as a fringe benefit of a 6,400-yen-per-year insurance policy under which the fees for any consultations with a lawyer -- in the event of incidents such as traffic accidents -- are covered. However, it is thought that the majority of policyholders actually signed up to this policy in order to gain access to the helpline.

Policyholders who have signed up to this helpline service can, if they have been accused of groping, alert the insurance company, after which an emergency message is sent to participating lawyers across Japan. Since the service notifies the lawyers of the accused groper's location, they can rush to the scene. The policyholder can also consult with a lawyer on the phone. The lawyer's fee for the 48-hour period after the incident is fully compensated under the policy.

Until April 2017, the number of new contracts for this insurance policy had hovered at around several dozen per month. However, following the recent spate of alleged grope-and-run cases in Tokyo, the firm says the number of new policyholders signing up since the start of May has increased to several hundreds.

The majority of policyholders are male, at 80 percent. However, there are also a number of female policyholders, as the plan can be used when they fall victim of groping incident. Naturally, policyholders will not be compensated if the allegation of groping turns out to be true.

Insurance firm president Shoji Sugimoto explains that the movie "I Just Didn't Do It" in which the main character is falsely accused of groping led to the development of the insurance policy.

Sugimoto explains, "It is impossible to know whether one will be caught up in a groping incident. We are here to provide help to people who feel anxious about the issue."

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