It’s no secret that Japan has had maybe more than its fair share of problems with people taking inappropriate photos on public transportation. But while authorities have gotten more vigilant in protecting travelers on the ground from predatory photographers, those working in the air are still dealing with a big problem.

To highlight just how prevalent the problem is, the Japan Federation of Aviation Industry Unions recently conducted a nationwide survey from April to June on flight attendants who work for its six member companies which include Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways.

About 60% of the 1,623 surveyed reported that they had, or suspected that they had, been secretly filmed or photographed while on board. Some, around 20%, reported that this had definitely happened to them, because they caught the perpetrator red handed. Others, around 40%, suspected that they had been photographed or filmed secretly because someone told them that they saw someone doing it to them, or because they “found a smartphone camera placed in a particular location to take upskirt shots” even if they had no concrete evidence of what was happening.

Confronting Offenders Is Rough

Those flight attendants who do catch offenders in the act say that getting a resolution can be… difficult. Some flight attendants said that offenders caught in the act retaliated by threatening to report them on “social media networking sites” and leave comments about being treated unfairly by them.

One flight attendant who “works for a major airline” said that she discovered a passenger with a camera hidden in the toe of his socks. When the crew examined it further it revealed more upskirt shots of other flight attendants in his camera. But, she added, this kind of cooperation is rare and although the crew handed this repeated offender over to the police, she doesn’t believe that he received any criminal punishment.

Why Don’t Authorities Do More to Help?

The trouble is partially a question of jurisdiction. When someone is caught taking inappropriate photos on public transportation on the ground, they are punished by the laws of the prefecture that they are in. However, when a plane is in the air, say authorities, it is legally unclear just who has jurisdiction over that flight. When authorities can’t figure out if the plane was flying over their specific prefecture when the incident happened, they often let the suspects that are turned over to them go.

According to the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, these “photographers” only fall under their jurisdiction if their photos interfere with a flight attendants’ duties and they continue to take photos after they’re ordered to stop.

Hopefully Things Will Change

The Japan Federation of Aviation Industry Unions hopes that this survey, the first of its kind, will spur local authorities to do more to punish offenders. In the meantime, the Scheduled Airlines Association of Japan, an industry group of airline companies, has put up posters at major airports instructing passengers to not secretly photograph or film anyone on a plane without their prior consent.

 

[Image: ana.co.jp]

 

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