Using mobile phones for upskirts? Not as common in Japan as you might think

Japanese sex offender busted by Japanese police and passengers in Tokyo (from Flickr)

A number of blogs (this one, for example) picked up a posting of a Japanese journalist who reported that Apple added a specific function to the Japanese version of the iPhone: a shutter sound for the camera that is also active in silent mode.

Shutter sounds in Japanese mobile phones (mostly a loud click or short melodies) are supposed to prevent men from secretly taking upskirt pictures of girls. No Japanese manufacturer would dare to sell phones without that function. They are too afraid of the danger of being singled out as a company, which is technically paving the way for sex offenders.

You have heard it all: Women getting molested in Japanese trains (happens), vending machines for panties in Tokyo (forbidden) and now this. Upskirts do happen in Japan. They happen in real life, anime and in games. In real life, upskirts rightfully constitute a serious crime in this country. However, coverage of the phenomenon in Western media is – in my perception – clearly exaggerated.

John asked me to depict the mindset of a person who likes doing upskirt shots. This is quite easy: In my view, they are losers breaking the law. In Japan, such photos are “easier to take” because it’s compulsory for school girls, for example, to wear skirts all year around (and there are lots of them). It’s my personal opinion that Japanese girls in general like wearing short skirts more than Western girls do, sometimes even during winter. The consequence: Perverts have more chances for upskirts, statistically speaking.

All that said, Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. I would not worry if my girl friend ran around half-naked and in a skirt at 3 a.m. anywhere in Tokyo. Also, after having lived in Japan for over 5 years I personally came to the conclusion that Japanese men are very similar to their Western counterparts. The level of perversion is about the same, it’s just that people in different cultures live it out in different ways. I agree with John’s posting on the issue, especially his final statement.

What I never understood, however, is why Japanese companies produce mobile phones that make shutter sounds to prevent sex crimes but also release small digital cameras which remain absolutely mute when taking pictures…