The smartphone app released by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department to help scare off train gropers is now becoming one of the – if not THE – most popular public service apps in the country.
The app, called Digi Police, has already been downloaded more than 237,000 times, and police official Keiko Toyamine finds the high figure quite “unusual” especially for a public app such as this one despite it being launched some time three years ago.
“Thanks to its popularity, the number is increasing by some 10,000 every month,” Toyamine said while speaking to AFP via Channel News Asia. She added that victims are often too scared to say anything in this situation, but the app’s SOS message mode can help victims notify other passengers of the situation while remaining silent.
There’s apparently two option to choose from in the app. The victim can either choose a blast of voice shouting “stop it” on max volume or produce a silent full-screen SOS message that reads “There is a molester. Please help.”
When it was first launched a few years back, Digi Police only had the feature to provide information for elderly people, parents, and their children about scams and prowlers; however, after people started to talk about sexual assaults, most notably the attack that happened to Japanese idol Maho Yamaguchi last year, the police decided to add the “repel molesters” feature just a few months ago.
According to the latest data from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, there have been nearly 900 reported groping and other harassment cases on Tokyo trains and subways in 2017. Those who are caught may face up to six months of jail time or a fine up to 500,000 yen ($5,500); however, the jail sentence can even go up to 10 years if the attacker used violence or threats.