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Police thank 2 Japanese teens for helping high school girl escape man on train

Hiroya Shiroyama, head of the Tokushima Prefectural Police's Awayoshinogawa Police Station, is seen handing a certificate of thanks to Seren Naito, center, and Yuto Shibano, left, at the police station in Yoshinogawa, Tokushima Prefecture, on May 19, 2021. (Mainichi/Yoko Kunimoto)

YOSHINOGAWA, Tokushima -- Two high school boys here were awarded a police certificate of thanks on May 19 for helping a high school girl being verbally harassed by a man on their train.

    First-year student Yuto Shibano, 15, and third-year pupil Seren Naito, 17, of Tokushima Prefectural Kawashima Senior High School, received the accolade from the head of the Tokushima Prefectural Police's Awayoshinogawa Police Station Hiroya Shiroyama in this western Japan city.

    According to police and other sources, at around 4:30 p.m. on April 21, Shibano was on the train home from school when he noticed a female high school student being verbally accosted by a passenger in his 50s. He then went over to her and asked if she knew him, and warned the man "not to talk forcefully to people you've only just met." He continued to defend her from the man, and they left the train together.

    Naito, who was on the same train, called out when he realized the man was following them after they'd alighted. He then waited with Shibano until the girl's family came to get her from the station.

    Shibano said of the incident, "My legs were shaking when I called out, but I thought that I couldn't just pretend I hadn't seen anything. Naito and I made a good team." Naito told the Mainichi Shimbun, "I was scared, but I felt like I wanted to help. I want to be a police officer in future, so I'll work hard to make the most of this experience."

    (Japanese original by Yoko Kunimoto, Tokushima Bureau)

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