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New anti-groping website in Japan maps assault areas with user data

Nari Woo, left, and Remon Katayama are seen introducing the Chikan Radar website in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on Aug. 6, 2019. (Mainichi/Kayo Mukuda)
The Chikan Radar page is seen on a smartphone on Aug. 9, 2019, in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo. If users push the yellow button in the center, they can register a groping incident. (Mainichi/Kayo Mukuda)

TOKYO -- A newly launched website enabling users to track areas rife with groping incidents, or "chikan" in Japanese, has been attracting attention across the country.

    Called "Chikan Radar," the site was opened on Aug. 1 by Tokyo-based IT venture firm QCCCA Inc., which also runs services including a harassment consultation website. The company decided to create a system that could make the present state of groping incidents visible to people.

    When company head Nari Woo sent out a tweet to announce the new site, it received over 10,000 retweets on Twitter. "I want the accumulation of this data to be helpful with prevention measures to lead to the eradication of molestation," she said.

    On Chikan Radar, victims can push a button to record an alleged harassment incident, which is then assigned via location tracking to the train station nearest to the user's position during the assault. The data is then displayed over a map.

    Information is anonymous and not connected to the police. If users register with the program through the free messenger app LINE, they can receive data from the previous day too.

    The inspiration for developing the website came out of online discussion in May about the rights and wrongs of using a safety pin against assailants as a defense against sexual harassers. Often during discussions about the issue, the focus is on how victims can voice their protest, but in reality many do not speak up for reasons including fear and embarrassment.

    There are also people who give up on reporting incidents during the morning rush hour due to concern they may be late to school or other appointments. Among all of these factors, the company decided to make a site that would use victims' data to try and move toward solving the problem.

    At present the site comprises a map and a chart displaying the total number of groping incidents per station. It can also accept reports on secret photography, flashing and other acts. The company is considering calling for cooperation from railway operating companies and the police once it has collected a certain amount of data, to have it utilized in installing security cameras and setting up patrols.

    So far information on some 500 cases has been collected. Reflecting on the result so far, QCCCA's Remon Katayama said, "I think the reason the site has had more of an impact and collected more data than we expected is that there are many people who are suffering in silence."

    (Japanese original by Kayo Mukuda, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

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