Don’t make the mistake of thinking Japanese women are weak or somehow submissive. How a woman would react would depend on her personality. I’ve seen Japanese women yelling at, hitting, kicking, and running chikan (subway gropers) off trains and chasing them down the platform.
I saw one woman determinedly hanging onto a guys coat as he hit her about the head and shoulders in an attempt to break her grasp and escape before the transit police could arrive and grab him. So don’t judge Japanese culture by that one video – I find it highly likely that some women DID hit, kick, or yell at him, but he just didn’t publish that footage.
And keep in mind- you can’t judge these girls’ reactions through the lens of your culture. You have to understand that in Japan it’s considered to be immature and shameful to act out in a way that bothers others or otherwise draws attention to yourself in public. It’s considered to be “meiwaku” and is generally scorned. For this reason, you won’t usually see people being loud, confrontational, or causing scenes in public places- they’d be embarrassed or ashamed to draw that kind of attention to themselves. Unfortunately, not calling attention to yourself includes not reacting in a visible way even when something happens, like being groped. This is actually the sort of frozen, stoic reaction that the chikan count on to keep women quiet. They calculatedly choose a woman they think will keep quiet, a woman who won’t want to cause a scene and embarrass herself. They depend on her shame to keep her quiet- sound familiar? It’s really not that different from what happens in the US or other countries. These guys pick on those they perceive as weak, as no doubt this guy did.
(Which by the way, is also why the chikan pick on western women…they assume that they won’t be able to speak Japanese and so won’t be able to report them.)
I also think the girls’ confusion and giggly reaction was at least partly due to that guy being a foreigner. People here really don’t speak English all that well, and these girls likely had no idea what he was saying, what to say to him, or how to deal with him. The general public honestly isn’t used to dealing with foreigners, and this sort of gives foreigners a kind of invisibility cloak and lets them get away with behaviour that a Japanese could never get away with – no one wants to confront the scary foreigner. I’ve seen it happen in all kinds if situations, from being drunk and loud in public, to getting out of speeding tickets. It always irritates me when I see foreigners take advantage of the Japanese tendency to be non-confrontational, but this guy in particular really galls me. It’s abhorrent behaviour and he shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it. I only hope that next time someone has the presence if mind to call the cops, because this would be covered under Japan’s sexual harassment and public nuisance laws. If caught, he’d be arrested and spend at least a month in jail. And I would dearly love for this guy to spend time in a Japanese jail.