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Female-only morning rush-hour train cars debuted Monday in Tokyo in a bid to foil gropers.

Other regions have already introduced female-only train cars, but Tokyo was slower to adopt them due to crowded platforms and the prevalence of mutual trackage systems.

The move was launched in line with a call from the Land, Infrastructure and Transportation Ministry.

The measure started Monday on the Saikyo Line of East Japan Railway Co. and Rinkai Line of the Tokyo Waterfront Area Rapid Transit Inc.

Other lines in the area, operated by nine private railways, and the Toei Shinjuku Line plan to introduce female-only cars starting May 9.

At Ikebukuro Station on the JR Saikyo Line, female commuters and students could be seen boarding female-only cars coming from Saitama Prefecture, while some men apparently unaware of the restriction were seen dashing into the cars as well.

Female passengers generally had a good impression of the new system, with one saying, “I feel relaxed because there’s no chance of being groped.” Another said, “It was less-crowded than I thought. I will use it tomorrow, too.”

Only one female-only car has been designated in each of the Tokyo-bound trains running through around 9:30 a.m.

The Keio and JR Saikyo lines have already been running female-only cars on outbound trains from Tokyo late at night.

The Yokohama subway has already been running female-only cars during the morning rush.

In February, police said the number of reported groping incidents on Tokyo trains almost tripled to 2,201 in 2004 from 778 cases in 1996.

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