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1-year-old girl dies after being hit by car in Saitama

102 Comments

A one-year-old girl died on Monday night after she was hit by a car on the street in front of her house in Saitama earlier in the day.

According to police, the child, identified as Chisa Kawahara, went outside with her mother who was putting the garbage out for collection on the sidewalk at about 10 a.m., TV Asahi reported. She apparently strayed onto the street and was hit by a car driven by Masatsugu Saito, 65.

Chisa was taken to hospital with head injuries and died at about 10 p.m., police said.

Saito, who was arrested by police, was quoted as saying he wasn't speeding and that he didn't see anyone on the street, but knew immediately that he had hit something, TV Asahi reported.

Police have charged him with vehicular manslaughter.

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102 Comments
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That is one sad news. For both parties involved. RIP little one.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

There are so many things I could say about how drivers in Japan are terrible and how the mother was just irresponsible, but the fact is that it was just a sad accident. The family of the child as well as the driver will never fully recover from this incident. RIP

5 ( +6 / -1 )

If he wasn't speeding and was following all the road rules.. whose at fault? him or the mother? Although it will way very heavily on this mans conscious, I don't think he should be jailed. However if is proven he was speeding than that's a different matter.

The mother should be held responsible in my opinion. Even then it's just a tragic accident. What do others think?

13 ( +12 / -1 )

poor driver, what a thing to have to live with

7 ( +6 / -1 )

mother ignores her 1 year old daughter while on the street. Just another day in Japan.

8 ( +14 / -7 )

Readers, please do not badmouth the mother.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The mother deserves sympathy, but what was she thinking? Seriously?! Letting your toddler wander into the street is just asking for trouble. I don't care if the driver was speeding. Most people speed because we expect that other people won't do something stupid like letting an infant wander into the street. Likewise, I always hold the hand of my niece and nephew when we're near moving vehicles, because bad stuff can happen.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Sad for the mother and father, brothers and sisters if any too, but sad for the unfortunate motorist, probably just driving within the law and road conditions but no chance to do anything when a child suddenly runs out in front of your car, could happen to anyone of us at anytime.

And there was a footpath in this residential area, thats stunningly unusual here.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Why was the driver arrested? This is one avoidable accident, yes, but the driver should not be blamed for it!

First and foremost: there should have been some child safety device on the door to prevent the baby from crawling out of the house.

Was there a "飛び出し注意" sign on the sidewalk? Was the baby wearing flashy clothes that could have caught the driver's attention?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

One year old kids do not have any road sense what-so-ever and it is the responsibility of the parent to make sure they don't wander onto the road.

All my pity goes to the driver!

12 ( +13 / -1 )

There is actually a safety device- a rucksack (backpack) with a string attached to it. There are some of these on sale on the net, but my hubby bought one during one of his trips abroad. Its main purpose is exactly to prevent the child from straying away . I use it when I take my daughter with me shopping and...oh, the horror I see in others eyes! I'm such a monster for keeping my child on a leash like a dog! But somehow I think that if the mom (and many other parents) were OK with putting such safety rucksacks on their kids, and were not afraid of bashing and badmouthing, many tragic accidents like the one in the article would be prevented.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Moms can be very careless here. they often leave kids sitting in bike seats when the bike is on an angle. Fall very easily. Body awareness lacks here.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

WTF is a one year kid doing on the street!

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Sasoriza - When my daughter was little I used a harness-and-lead my Dad sent me to keep her out of mischief, and I got some pretty horrible comments about treating her like a dog. But she stayed safe. Now her daughter has a cute little black-and-yellow striped harness with wings on (I think she bought it in Japan), and she gets favourable comments about her being 'a cute little bumblebee'. It seems attitudes change even in Japan.

In this case though, it sounds like the mother just nipped out to put the rubbish out on the street outside the house. If they live on a quiet housing estate with very little traffic, a harness and lead to take the rubbish out might seem more paranoid than protective.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

No one can keep an eye on a child that age with their hands full of trash. In my humble opinion it was bad judgement on the part of the mother. It is a tragic and sad accident that has touch many lives including all of ours here today.

I wish them all peace.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Our neighbourhood sometimes has small children playing out in the street. I'm glad that drivers are considerate and careful enough for this to be normal behaviour.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Clearly the Mother is responsible - even if the driver was speeding the baby shouldnt have been in the street BUT:

Newsflash people: Mothers are not perfect. They make mistakes, sometimes tragic ones that they will then have to live with forever. I am sure there is nothing any of you can say about this poor woman that will bash her even a fraction of the bashing she is giving herself right now.

Or is everyone here so perfect that nothing like this could ever happen to them? They never get tired? They never lose concentration or get distracted for one second? Because if so - please let me know what you are taking - I and every other Mother I know needs some of it!

-10 ( +6 / -15 )

Consider this, how many people take their 1 year old children outside when they are taking out the garbage?

If the alternative is leaving them alone in the house - even for five minutes - many people, I should imagine.

No one can keep an eye on a child that age with their hands full of trash.

In most cases, taking the child with you to put the rubbish out is safer than leaving the child alone in the house. If necessary, make two or more trips so that you don't have your 'hands full of trash'. Not everyone lives on a busy road full of traffic.

According to msn news, the accident happened when the car turned left at a crossroads with no traffic lights. Apparently the child was 'crouched down' in the road and the driver didn't see her. It's beginning to sound like both adults involved failed to keep the little girl safe.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Two tragedies happened on that night... ...a tragedy for the child who lost its precious life ...and a tragedy for Japanese society to allow an innocent individual to be arrested for something that was COMPLETELY beyond his control.

S

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Shoulda, woulda, coulda.....a tragic accident is what this is. I also used a cute little monkey harness for my daughter but would not have bothered just to take out the trash. Did I take her out with me? Of course. Something could have just as easily happened to her alone in the house for 1 to 2 minutes that I was gone. It's possible the child darted right out in front of the vehicle just as it was approaching and the driver would then have not been able to see or avoid her. It happens. I'm an accident adjuster and have investigated enough of these types of accidents to last a lifetime. And that is what it is, an accident. I'm sure that both parties are blaming themselves for the incident, I hope that one day they are able to forgive themselves.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If the child was near-stationary in the road, of course the driver is liable for driving over them. Even if the toddler ran out, he may be to blame, at least partially. It simply should not be considered acceptable for a driver to just run someone down.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

It simply should not be considered acceptable for a driver to just run someone down.

It obviously isn't. The article states clearly that the driver was arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

japan_cynicMar. 27, 2012 - 01:45PM JST If the child was near-stationary in the road, of course the driver is liable for driving over them. Even if the toddler ran out, he may be to blame, at least partially. It simply should not be considered acceptable for a driver to just run someone down.

I disagree. If it was impossible for the driver to see and/or avoid the child then the driver cannot be held responsible for the accident. Simply put one cannot hold the driver responsible when there was nothing they could do to avoid the accident.

One doesn't arrest the shinkansen driver when someone leaps in front of the train.

This is a tragedy for all involved, and there shouldn't have been any arrests.

Oh, but I would recommend that all parents with very small children invest in a harness for their child.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

If it was impossible for the driver to see and/or avoid the child then the driver cannot be held responsible for the accident.

If the child was stationary in the road and the driver did not/could not see the child, then the driver was not paying due attention and is certainly responsible for the accident. Vernacular accounts say that the child was crouched down in the road; there is no suggestion at all that she leapt in front of the car. And surely a car that is turning left out of a dirt-track road (according to the Mainichi) is not the same as a shinkansen hurtling down the tracks.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Cleo, I agree with you, but several other posters (in this and similar stories in the past) are quick to argue that the driver did nothing wrong, it was just an "accident", and someone else's fault for his negligence.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

I have young children and always hold or have held their hands when out in public. When I am unable, I have one of the older kids hold hands with a younger one. We live in a quiet residential area but this goes for our street and in front of our house. You can't be too cautious. My Japanese neighbors, on the otherhand, allow their kids to play outdoors unsupervised, including riding their tricycles, from age 3. It is common, too, to see mothers walk in front of their young child, who is trailing behind. I would like to see the average Japanese person become more safety conscious because it is so heartbreaking and all too common to read stories like this one.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Our kids are now older, but I can't imagine leaving them 'to take out the garbage' anywhere near a street or road.

The driver could be negligent, and could have seen the one-year old--that remains to be decided.

But the mother has obviously failed the test: she allowed her kid to stay unattended where her daughter was able to reach (crawl to) the street.

I'd choose negligent motherhood over negligent driving.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It's hard to blame anyone or anything here without knowing more of the facts. It doesn't sound like the driver was speeding or drunk or anything, and it doesn't sound like the mom was negligent. And all the poor girl was doing was being a toddler and toddling about.

What thing I'm willing to bet and WOULD gladly blame the situation on if true is that the street in question is probably not all that wide, and probably doesn't have much by way of sidewalks except for rain gutters. MANY streets in this nation have no sidewalks, and where they have a little room at the side of the white line to walk on, that is the place they stupidly set up utility poles, etc. In short, the streets here are a nightmare, and it doesn't sound like there's anyone to blame 100%. I'm quite surprised in fact that man is facing the charges he's facing.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I agree with Jakesmum. I don't know what the circumstances were here, but I do see a LOT of negligence walking around on a daily basis. Like I said before Mothers aren't perfect, but waking 20 meters ahead of your toddler alongside a busy road is just asking for trouble. As is allowing him to have a tantrum alongside a major intersection by just walking away and abandoning him (I had to get off my bike and stand near him because I couldn't in all conscience just ride past and surprise surprise he got up and tried to run into the street).

There are tragic accidents due to momentary thoughtlessness, but there are also near-insane act of recklessness too.

I feel sorry for the driver but the same thing goes for him - turning into a street in a residential area you should be prepared for the unexpected -like a toddler crouched in the street. It shouldn't be there, but it was, and I find it very hard to believe he didn't actually see it if he was paying attention. But again - don't know for sure. Could have been obscured by a bush? Another bin bag?

I am sure both the mother and driver are devastated by this and woul give anything to take their actions back

-11 ( +2 / -13 )

Traffic law in this country is stupid, if some one runs into the back of you at the red light you are still partly to blame according to the insurance company, so this poor guy driivng this car that hit this kid is still partially to blame in the eyes of the law here.

In a sane country in the same situation he would not be to blame at all if he was just simply driving legally down a road, obviously he didnt run this kid over on purpose.

On the face of it This car driver has become a victim of a careless mother and a dumb law.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

cleo Mar. 27, 2012 - 02:40PM JST

If it was impossible for the driver to see and/or avoid the child then the driver cannot be held responsible for the accident.

If the child was stationary in the road and the driver did not/could not see the child, then the driver was not paying due attention and is certainly responsible for the accident. Vernacular accounts say that the child was crouched down in the road; there is no suggestion at all that she leapt in front of the car. And surely a car that is turning left out of a dirt-track road (according to the Mainichi) is not the same as a shinkansen hurtling down the tracks.

The simularity is in the lack of criminal intent and the lack of negligence.

I do not get out of my car and walk around it to check that there are no toddlers lurking in front or behind of my car, I do remain observant, check my mirrors and blind spots. Likewise I drive at a reasonable speed, slow down if I see a potential danger, but even if I slow down to 20km/hr I cannot stop in time if someone decides to step out just a meter in front of my car.

The assumption that drivers are always automatically criminally guilty if their car hits someone is nonsense, just as it would be nonsense as there are circumstances where the driver has no control over the outcome.

We lack details, but if the child was close to the car then the child would be invisible to the driver because of the angles involved, and nothing short of getting out of the car and walking around would have revealed the child's presence. Clearly this is an unreasonable standard to expect of any driver.

I have proposed before that children, blind and deaf people and other high-risk pedestrians should carry a transmitter, and all cars should be equipped with a receiver. When a driver comes within 15 meters it should start to ping in warning, and by the time the car is within 5 meters it should start to ping continuously. Anything under a meter should be a warning shriek.

I would find this extremely comforting, since whenever I drop my daughter off at hoikuen there are children coming and going, and sometimes I lose sight of one of them and have to stop my car and actually get out and check where the child is before I can move again. 99% of the time the child has got into their parents car or is standing sensibly out of the way because they heard my car's reverse ping, but one time the child had dropped her bag behind my car and was busy collecting her stuff (despite my car pinging away at her because it was in reverse gear). I'm glad I stopped, got out and checked, but frankly the child's parent (who was sitting in their car watching) deserved to be dragged out and shot. One does NOT just sit there and watch one's child crouch behind a car in reverse gear. If I hadn't been alert and actively tracking the kids around my car it would have resulted in a situation like this one, except that in this situation it wasn't outside a hoikuen and the driver had no reason to expect a child to be crawling around near his car. Frankly I can't see any reason why the driver should be considered a criminal. There was no criminal intent, no negligence is stated, and there was no reason for the driver to take any extra precautions. It was an accident. Sometimes these things happen and no-one is to blame.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Too many opinions but to add one more observation. Don't you think that at crossings anybody involved is not slowing down enough? Bicycles are the most often offenders but cars and even people turn over the corner suddenly as it seems without stopping before that or slowing down enough. RIP little girl

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Not a solution, but an observation.

In my area they are currently doing major roadwork's(badly needed) adding bicycle lanes(ours are separated from traffic and pedestrians). On same token I found that many driving licence holders forget it all when on a bicycle.

The law(here and overseas) is distinct between road-users and those that are not but the responsibility lies with the road-users to look out and prevent accidents.

Here is a defintinion from my country:

Any road-user over the age of 12 knows the rules and is held responsible for upholding them, exceptions are made for elderly who are weak of body and mind. Thus every road-user needs to look out for them and ensure their safety.

Goes into more details of course.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

I've had a licence for well over 20 years and driven in multiple countries including Japan. I have never driven into someone (or indeed any other stationary object) standing in a road.

I am horrified that apologists think it is acceptable that a driver should simply run over someone in a road, and not be considered to blame.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

If your 1 year old can walk, and can walk into the street, watch him/her like a hawk.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Always hold your childs hand near a street... Whatever you do there, always!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I am horrified that apologists think it is acceptable that a driver should simply run over someone in a road, and not be considered to blame.

Have you at all considered the circumstances here? Have you considered that this 65 year old may have had his license for 45 years and not hit anything either.

Imagine driving in the opposite direction as a parked bus and a child rushes out from behind the bus and in a second his and your lives change forever - his fatally. You did nothing wrong and you were following the speed limit. Does this make you a criminal? A bad person who needs to be excluded from society?

This man needs to be given necessary trauma counseling and if this story has been reported correctly - freed immediately.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

DentShopMar. 27, 2012 - 06:22PM JST You did nothing wrong and you were following the speed limit. Does this make you a criminal? A bad person who needs to be excluded from society? This man needs to be given necessary trauma counseling and if this story has been reported correctly - freed immediately.

Precisely. The intent behind prison time is to rehabilitate the person, not just to punish. This person hasn't done anything that requires rehabilitation, so prison time would just be for vengeance, and frankly if I were this mother I'd be very cautious about assigning blame in this incident.

No amount of time in prison will reduce the chance of this person re-offending since it was pure bad luck, likewise it won't stop others from doing the same thing since again it is just bad luck, nor can it turn back time and stop the child going into the street. No purpose, either individual or social, is served by sending anyone to prison in this case.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Two irresponsibles, the mother that didn't pay attention to her child and the old man that didn't pay 100% attention. This is what happens when people forgets that we are surrounded by DEATH.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

It's a tragedy for everyone, and I don't know who's at fault here. But only yesterday I watched two parents and their young kids (around 12 and 8) crossing a main road. A car was approaching and I expected the boys (who were lagging behind) to speed up and cross safely. They didn't. They just kept walking at their own slow pace and talking to their parents in front of them (who didn't tell them to hurry up either).

I was struck yet again at how so many people in Japan seem to think it's down to others to look out for them.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

This is so sad... RIP... I've often seen mothers letting toddlers wander on their own, yes they keep an eye on the toddler, but you have to be extremely careful... they absolutely do not know the dangers of straying onto the roads...

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Remember,drivers in Japan, are considered professionals. In any residential area you have to watch out for children. You have to watch out for the unexpected. You always have to be a defensive driver but accidents will happen as long as human are the ones controlling the car. This is very sad but the driver has responsibility for controlling a dangerous object in the extremely narrow streets of Japan. For those who blame the mother or child, you need to take a defensive course or hopefully not a licensed driver.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

ka_chanMar. 27, 2012 - 07:40PM JST Remember,drivers in Japan, are considered professionals. In any residential area you have to watch out for children. You have to watch out for the unexpected. You always have to be a defensive driver but accidents will happen as long as human are the ones controlling the car. This is very sad but the driver has responsibility for controlling a dangerous object in the extremely narrow streets of Japan. For those who blame the mother or child, you need to take a defensive course or hopefully not a licensed driver.

I'm sorry ka_chan, but I've taken defensive and advanced driving courses and I've been driving for a very long time. This doesn't change the physical fact that every car has blindspots and that NO amount of vigilance can prevent you from hitting someone who enters your blind spot while you're looking the other way. This is just physics, when you're doing your checks to the right some baby could very well crawl out from behind something and in front of your car, and no amount of subsequent checking will reveal that baby. It's just physics, you might as well try to deny gravity.

To blame the driver in this sort of situation is just plain cruel, unfair and stupid.

I note that you don't object to the truck driver who transports the rice you eat every day? In other words you acknowledge the necessity of vehicles in modern society, and are quite happy to profit from their existence, but then hold the drivers up to ridiculous, inhuman standards of conduct, requiring that they be all-seeing, all-knowing Godlike being. Cars are inherently dangerous, just like electricity, the gas in your apartment, the knives you cut your food with. The bottom line is that these are all necessities of modern living and are "reasonably" safe if handled responsibly. They are not "absolutely" safe. That's life. Deal with it, and don't blame the driver for an accident he had no way of preventing.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

To blame the driver in this sort of situation is just plain cruel, unfair and stupid.

Thank goodness some us still have common sense.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Some years ago, I was driving down a road near Hanzomon station when a little girl (about 6 years old) came rushing out in front of my car. Luckily I was able to immediately stop and no harm was done - that is until I saw the smiles on her parents' faces. They seemed to think it was a very funny joke! Needless to say, I was really taken aback! I couldn't believe my eyes! With parents like that, no driver should be blamed for an accident caused by the stupidity of irresponsible parents.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

How is a one year old able to get that far away from their mother that quickly? From my understanding one year olds are wobbling and just able to get around. If mom held the door open, the kid toddled out and followed, wouldn't mom have time to put the garbage down, turn around and see the child heading to the street? If mom was holding the kid, why on earth did she put her down next to the street?

Poor driver. He shouldn't be charged based on what has been reported.

I saw a two or three year old today left alone in a car while out. Keys in the car, kid bouncing around, windows up... outside a grocery store. Seething rage. Seething, seething rage...

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

And there you go, -5 votes for daring to suggest that drivers should be able to avoid running people down. I hope I don't encounter too many of you on the roads. Fortunately the "car driver is king" attitude doesn't dominate in Japan anything like as much in many western countries. The courteous attitude of most drivers here is one of the things I really like about Japan, a pleasant change from my home country.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

DentShop, the driver didn't say the child ran out too quickly for him to stop. He said he didn't see the child at all! Running over something as large as a person - even a small one - without even noticing, is pretty clear evidence of negligence. Drivers are suppose to look where they are going!

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

japan_cynic

Drivers are suppose to look where they are going!

You obviously don't drive.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japan, perhaps it is your wording? "running people down" gives an impression that the driver is hitting people on purpose. I highly, highly doubt that most drivers are out to do this.

We have no idea what happened. I can easily see how you could hit something and not see it. More so when it is as small as a one year old child.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

japan-cyn - don't know where you live in Japan - but courteous drivers are NOT in abundance in my neck.

Statistically my prefecture has the worst mannered drivers in the country & the worst accident rate & the highest fatality rate.

Selfish, unaware, rude, unskilful, negligent would be just a few appropriate terms to describe local drivers.

And I agree "car is not king" in Japan, but thoughtless, careless unthinking cyclists and pedestrians certainly are(in my neck) They have a law unto themselves - and don't you ever forget it!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@browny1

Statistically my prefecture has the worst mannered drivers in the country & the worst accident rate & the highest fatality rate.

Would you be living in Aichi by any chance? Sounds just like my neighborhood!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Unbelievable. A 1 year old. Anyone who has or has had one knows hey run absolutely anywhere and everywhere. Just today I had to stop mine from running full pelt at some steps and not stop at the top, because she's one and has no idea about physics for f's sake! How hard is it to grasp that idea for parents here. I have had to tell my friends to look after their kids because they were 50 metres away and the kids 2 metres away from a main road. It is just unbelievable. Yes, car drivers here are generally more deferential and use the horn less but that is not necessarily a good thing. No one should be standing next to a road with a one-year old and not be holding them somehow. Full stop. It is very very simple.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

japan_cynicMar. 27, 2012 - 09:26PM JST DentShop, the driver didn't say the child ran out too quickly for him to stop. He said he didn't see the child at all! Running over something as large as a person - even a small one - without even noticing, is pretty clear evidence of negligence. Drivers are suppose to look where they are going!

No, it's evidence of physics.

Cars have a number of blindspots. Almost everyone is aware of the blindspots to the sides and rear of their car, but there are two more blindspots that are important here. Firstly there are blindspots to the front right and left of the driver where the windscreen ends and the doors begin (sometimes called the A-frame area). These mean that the driver could have missed the child approaching if the angle was wrong. Secondly there is a blindspot in front of the car. This varies by bonnet length, driver height, car make, etc, but we're all aware of it when we're parking and can't see the parking bay line in front of our car. Again if the baby stepped out really close in front of the car then it might have stepped from one blind spot into the other. So it is possible even the most alert driver to have missed the child the entire way.

Of course this is irrelevant. Even with mongoose reflexes, a dry road, perfect tires and new brake pads a car travelling at 30km/hr (below the speed limit) it would take 10.1 meters for the car to stop. If the child stepped out closer than this then the driver's actions are irrelevant, stopping would be physically impossible. On wet roads the friction coefficient is closer to 0.4 than the ideal 0.9 I plugged in for this calculation, and right now in Japan wet or even icy roads are a fair assumption, so the stopping distance becomes 22 meters or even further if there was ice.

Don't blame the driver, it is highly unlikely that there is anything he could have done to stop this accident. If you want to blame anyone then blame physics, or God for creating the laws of physics if you're a religious sort.

Don't blame the driver simply because you cannot be understand basic concepts like, "heavy things take TIME to stop".

11 ( +11 / -0 )

if the baby stepped out really close in front of the car then it might have stepped from one blind spot into the other.

The baby did not step out in front of the car. The car turned left off a dirt track onto the road where the baby was crouched down.

Even with mongoose reflexes, a dry road, perfect tires and new brake pads a car travelling at 30km/hr (below the speed limit) it would take 10.1 meters for the car to stop.

The car was turning off a dirt track. I very much doubt any competent driver would take that kind of corner at 30 kph. If he was doing that kind of speed on a corner and on a poor road he was driving very recklessly indeed. Even more so if the road was wet or icy, though I don't think that was the case on Monday morning.

Obviously the child should not have been in the road, and no doubt the mother will spend the rest of her life blaming herself; but neither should the driver assume the road is his, especially in a residential area where it's quite likely there are children in places where they shouldn't be.

-10 ( +0 / -10 )

Two tragedies happened on that night...

One tragedy happened at around 10 in the morning. The child died from the injuries that night. The arrest isn't a tragedy, but possibly an injustice depending on what facts are discovered by law enforcement.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I don't waste my time blaming or defending anyone for unfortunate accidents like this. Many point of views can be imagined, and I am not there in person to be a witness. As most of us here in Japan knows...its not a simple process to place garbage out on the side of the road. We actually have to separate our recyclables....cans, bottle, plastics, etc. Try doing this while watching a one year old at the same time. Anything can happen if you turn your head for a second, and those precious seconds can be a matter life or death if we are not careful. A child has perished, a mother loses a child, and there is a driver who has live the rest of his life knowing that he hit a child. A sad ending for everyone.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

toddlers are very fast walkers !!!

What kind of car was he driving ?

I used to live in Saitama and I have seen people speed through blind corners. Speeding through residential areas and etc. Cars speeding very close to me with a disregard for pedestrians

I don't know what happened ?

I can't judge anybody

I left saitama because it was to dangerous !!!!!! Riding a bicycle in saitama is dangerous for your health. No sidewalks !!!!! No bicycle lanes because the roads are tooooooooooooooo narrow.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Vernie, separating garbage is not that hard, you only take out one bag each day! Your husband takes it out, you take it out when your husband is still at home so he can watch the kid, you take it out when the kid is asleep, you take it out and lock the kid in a room for 2 minutes, you ask a friend to come over, you hold the kid (!), you put it in a sling, whatever.... You do NOT "turn your head for a second" next to a road! Of course "anything can happen when you turn your head for a second" with a one year old. That is why you DON'T turn your head for a second next to a road, you do it in situations where you can rectify a minor problem like the kid pulling a poster off a wall, knocking a cup off a table, etc.. not when the child will DIE!

And you SHOULD apportion blame, otherwise you, society or anyone will never know how to learn from their mistakes. Japan has to learn that it is far too complacent, almost criminally I'd say, when it comes to it's childrens' (road) safety.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Slow down people! The speed limit is the limit and not the speed to drive at all times. In areas where there may be children take your foot off of the gas. Like it or not you are in Japan now.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

YuriOtani

So in other countries we can keep going at the same speed and hit children? What is the connection between the country we reside in and our speed in relation to the presence of children?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

No people think the speed limit is the speed to travel. I have been tailgated in Japan and America. Yes it is 25 mph in America for a residential community. This has nothing to do with race. When you see or suspect children, SLOW DOWN. True it is a bore going slow but children move quickly. In Japan it is the law not to hit children with your car. In America a person could use the defense "he/she ran out in front of my car". As a professional driver it is up to you to maintain positive control of your car at all times. Give people a brake in congested areas and SLOW DOWN! The few extra minutes of travel could mean saving the life of a child.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Grungy stop making up physics. You do not know how this all unfolded, so you can not make up your own story. As for blind spots, yes, there are blind spots but if you know your blind spots, you need to be more cautious in regard to them. You don't rely on your mirrors when you change lanes but turn and look. I also I know of no blind spot in front of you unless the kid magically appeared right in front of the car below the line of sight or maybe a quantum event happened.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

sad! But I agree that leaving a ONE YEAR OLD in the street or outside alone is just plain DUMB

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Yuri Otani

People can't use that defence in Japan only because the law is an ass as usual, and idiotically doesn't allow for 100% fault for one party. Sharing blame can be a positive thing in society but it's not when it comes to serious matters such as road accidents.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Also, the speed limit should be BELOW safe speeds to travel at, if it has been set with any forethought or intelligence. If the limit is 25 in a residential area that should be slower than is necessary, not faster. If the speed limit is too fast then it's a very stupid limit!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A little one lost their life and a man is now and will forever be haunted by her death. It is called an "accident" for the very definition of the word. Last time I checked they are not called "on purpose". Professional driver or operator is one thing but the law here somehow expects one to have clairvoyance. There are countless scenarios that can play out with any "accident" but as mentioned by another poster the vast majority of drivers don't wake up in the morning thinking hmm.....I think I'll hit someone today. Too many think that it would have somehow come to a different conclusion if it were them driving. Maybe, maybe not. Again it is called an "accident".

1 ( +1 / -0 )

oikawa, Japan is a independent country. It is the law of Japan. I did not come to America and whine about "that is not how we do it in Japan". As for speed limits it is for ideal conditions. They change with the time of the day and weather. Do yourself a favor, give yourself plenty of time to drive.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

A speed limit is a limit not a target. "Obeying the speed limit" does not mean that a driver is driving safely, or well, or even legally.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

YuriOtani

I'm not whining, and if I am a lot of Japanese do aswell on that point. I'm just saying the law doesn't tally with reality. Laws are made by a few select individuals often with little knowledge of what they are talking about and/or ulterior motives so that is no surprise. And if you'd seen something in America that you thought was important done better in Japan and you didn't speak out, why on earth not? It's necessary to do so otherwise no-one can learn and improve.

And in this case, at 10am in Saitama yesterday morning, the actual speed limit should have been quite acceptable.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

in this case, at 10am in Saitama yesterday morning, the actual speed limit should have been quite acceptable.

It's 'quite acceptable' to drive at 30 kph coming round a corner off a dirt track onto the road in a residential area where it's quite likely there are kids about?

The speed limit means you mustn't go faster than that, even if it may seem safe to do so. It doesn't mean it's OK to drive at that speed regardless of the actual conditions on the road.

But in this case I don't think speed is the problem. The driver apparently didn't check that it was safe to turn onto the road he was turning onto. I'm sure he didn't intend to hit anyone, and in that sense this is an accident; but I do not agree with those posters who claim it was unavoidable and the driver is an innocent victim.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

cleo Mar. 27, 2012 - 11:05PM JST The baby did not step out in front of the car. The car turned left off a dirt track onto the road where the baby was crouched down.

Hi cleo. You've repeated this version of events several times, but I don't see it in the article. Where are you getting this information from? The reason I'm curious is that the driver claims he didn't see the baby before the accident, so he can't be the source. The mother likewise claims to be ignorant as to the baby's location before the accident.

This leaves me with the very simple question, "Who knew the baby's location before the accident?". Was there a third party who witnessed the accident? Or is this just conjecture?

Likewise you claim the driver turned off a dirt road. That's very specific. What is the source?

I think it is simply impossible, unless there's a third witness, to establish where the baby was prior to the accident, and as such the baby could well have crawled/fallen/toddled out from behind a bush and into the road in front of the car, placing it in the driver's blindspot, and thereby making it impossible for the driver to avoid the child.

ka_chanMar. 28, 2012 - 05:45AM JST Grungy stop making up physics.

Please point out what physics I made up? Just as a quick note, your not understanding something does not mean it is made up.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

yuriotani: Look, in all honesty, if you went to my country and found something to be completely illogical or dangerous, then I'd have absolutely no problem with you complaining about it and doing what you could to see that it was changed? Why do you feel so threatened by people doing the same as regards to Japan? Is this some kind of insecurity on your part? And what's race got to do with it? Do laws in Japan apply only if you belong to a particular race? I think you mean nationality, no?

As for the States, it's not exactly correct that the speed limit is 25mph in residential areas. First, it depends on the population of said residential area, whether or not there is a school in the area and the time of day. In areas where there are schools, the speed limit is generally lower during school hours.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Not as a defense of the driver or anything but I would be kind of curious about the total conditions when the accident happened. Why I say that is because I drove here for many years and depending on the direction I was driving and the time of day, the sun was often so bright that it made it hard to see directly in front of you, especially in the spring and fall. That combined with high curbs that some roads here have and I can quite easily imagine a driver not being able to see a one-year old crouched down on the side of the road. In any event, I certainly hope blame will be apportioned fairly for this tragedy. The mother certainly should've kept a better eye on her child and the driver should've kept a better eye on the road. Neither party is totally too blame and neither is totally blameless.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

yuriotani: Slow down people! The speed limit is the limit and not the speed to drive at all times. In areas where there may be children take your foot off of the gas. Like it or not you are in Japan now.

If an area doesn't have a sign indicating that it's either a school zone or an area where children play, how are people supposed to know there may be children about? Are they supposed to assume that children are always about and if so should they always take their foot off the gas? I'm confused.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

How fast does a one ton (?) car have to be going in order to kill a one-year old child? I ask that question in all seriousness because if it could happen at say 10kph then surely there's not much at all the driver could've done to have avoided this accident short of not driving on that particular road. Of course, when it comes to Japanese road laws, that is pretty much the point. Short of just pulling over and turning off the car, the driver will always be held responsible to some degree just by merit of being on the road. As YuriOtani has so kindly pointed out, this is Japan, so just accept it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

You've repeated this version of events several times, but I don't see it in the article. Where are you getting this information from?

From the vernacular press.

http://mainichi.jp/area/saitama/news/20120327ddlk11040310000c.html - the car was turning left at a T-junction, off a dirt track, 30 metres from the driver's home. The driver says he 'didn't notice' the child. A neighbour saw the child in the road just prior to the accident.

how are people supposed to know there may be children about?

The driver lives 30 metres from where his car hit the girl. One would imagine he would have a pretty good idea of what kind of area he lives in, regardless of whether there are signs up or not.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

surely there's not much at all the driver could've done to have avoided this accident short of not driving on that particular road.

Other than looking where he was going, that is.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

japan_cynic: Your witty cynicism is duly noted. Now, how about trying to seriously answer my question? What's the minimum speed at which a car would have to be going to kill a one-year old child? If you turn left around a blind corner and a small child is crouched up against, what I'm guessing is the left-side curb, I would certainly think it would've been difficult to have avoided the child. If you've driven in Japan, know how badly the roads are planned, and how inattentive most people are to their own safety and that of their children, you would be a little more serious about my question and would honestly admit that paying attention isn't always enough to avoid accidents. Pedestrians, parents, cyclists are also responsible for ensuring their own safety. Again, I'm not saying the man is or isn't at fault. I don't know the whole situation. What I am saying is that I don't think he's the only responsible party here even though Japanese law will undoubtedly blame only him.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Cleo: Yes, he may have known about children in his area but the question I posed was really directed at this specific man's behavior. It was more of a rhetorical question aimed at Yuri's comments that you should take your foot off the gas if children may be about, which I suppose they may always be.

In regards to your comment, in all seriousness, I don't know which of my neighbors have kids, not even ones 30 meters away. I'm generally at work in the day time when the kiddies are at school. When I get home in the evening, any kids that might live nearby are likely in their houses. For all I know, the only kids in our immediate vicinity are the four who I know live in our building. So, I guess I can understand someone not being aware of every child or baby in their neighborhood.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Cleo: I meant wasn't directed at this specific man's behavior.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Vernie: Do you seperate your trash outside? We seperate ours inside and carry it out in bags on the days designated burnable and unburnable. The days designated for tins, glass, etc. are only once a month and even then we put things in seperate plastic bags, carry them down and dump them into their proper bins. It's really not that hard and is certainly no excuse for not keeping your eye on your one-year old.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

ambrosia, I'm sure if a driver is prepared to just plough on irrespective of what is in his path, he could kill a small child at any speed. What is your point? I've already observed that merely driving slowly is not in itself adequate to show that the driver was driving carefully or legally. You can try to invent some hypothetical scenario in which the child just magically materialised out of nowhere under his wheels if you like, but the act of driving over something as large as a child without even noticing it is pretty strong evidence that he wasn't paying much attention.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

My point is that it would be quite easy to miss a one-year old child crouched down along a curb. That's not a hypothetical scenario but seems to be where the child actually was. Turning a corner and missing a small child crouched down isn't hard to imagine, at least I don't think it is. Are you saying that the mother bears no responsibility for making sure her one-year old child was not on the road, the road intended for vehicles? All I'm saying is that both parties bear some responsibility here and no hypothetical scenario need be imagined to understand that. If your contention is that it's all the driver's fault then that's fine but we'll agree to disagree.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

ambrosia, the driver is 65 years old, retired, likely not out at work all day if he was taking his wife shopping at 10am on a Monday morning. Even if he doesn't know individual kids and isn't aware of every child or baby, unless he lives in a bubble he should know there are kids around where he lives. I agree with you that both parties bear some responsibility. My gripe is with those posters who claim the driver is not to blame at all because 'he wasn't speeding' or 'there was no criminal intent' or 'it was an accident'.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Cleo: I agree that he should have been more aware and I agree that he is not all to blame. The mother also knew cars were around and should've been better aware of her child's whereabouts. So, we both agree that the responsibility should be shared. That was my main point to begin with, however badly I may have stated it.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

My worst fear is having a small child run between two parked cars into the road. No matter how slow I go there is always a window where I wouldn't be able to stop in time. I always held my kids when there was traffic, but if I lived in a major city I might have become more lax.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

cleo Mar. 28, 2012 - 01:10PM JST http://mainichi.jp/area/saitama/news/20120327ddlk11040310000c.html - the car was turning left at a T-junction, off a dirt track, 30 metres from the driver's home. The driver says he 'didn't notice' the child. A neighbour saw the child in the road just prior to the accident.

I went and read the other news report, and it doesn't support your version of events. Firstly, the man who saw the child in the road before the accident doesn't say the child was stationary as you claim, merely that the child was in the road. Furthermore I find it odd that this neighbour saw a tiny 1 year old baby playing in the road... and a car approaching from 30 meters away accelerating from a stop... and yet did NOTHING. This seems highly suspicious.

And if the baby was in the road how could someone miss her in broad daylight? Unless the police find that the man is blind then it boggles the mind and leads one to the conclusion that either he deliberately hit the child, or that the child WASN'T in the road.

Furthermore you criticised me earlier writing, "The car was turning off a dirt track. I very much doubt any competent driver would take that kind of corner at 30 kph.", but the newspaper report states that the accident scene was 30 meters AFTER the car stopped at a T-junction. In short the driver seems to have been safely stopped, then started up and drove on, and with any modern car could easily be at 20 or 30km/hr over 30 meters.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I completely agree abiding by the speed limit is no defence. Driving safely according to the conditions (all conditions, not only weather) is what matters. However in this case we just don't have enough information concerning the driver's actions and how he was driving. We have no idea if he was or wasn't driving safely, and as Frungy says what you said about taking a corner at 30kmph was incorrect it seems. Of course the driver may be to blame, but we just don't know. A 1 year-old should never, however, be further away from an adult that it can't be grabbed in enough time to stop it being plowed down in a road. End of.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Readers, please go with what we reported here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm sorry but how perverted is a culture that would charge a person for an accident that someone else is to blame for the outcome of. If the parent / guardian of the kid was doing their job of looking after a kid hen this accident would not have occurred. Who leaves a one year old alone yet alone doesn't have safeguards in place to stop them getting out onto a road. Have they heard of locking doors, child locks, safety gates the list goes on. One person is responsible for this tragedy and it isn't the person charged. And even if the child went outside wit the mother what sort of person would not monitor a one year old outside near a road. Oh wait this is Japan! The same place you see kids unrestrained in cars, you kids wandering the streets. Unbelievable. I feel sorry for the driver

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Slow down people! The speed limit is the limit and not the speed to drive at all times. In areas where there may be children take your foot off of the gas. Like it or not you are in Japan now.

And the driver was Japanese... Why are we being yelled at?

-13 ( +0 / -13 )

tmarieMAR. 29, 2012 - 10:48AM JST Slow down people! The speed limit is the limit and not the speed to drive at all times. In areas where there may be children take your foot off of the gas. Like it or not you are in Japan now. And the driver was Japanese... Why are we being yelled at?

Who's yelling at you? Seems like you're being a tad bit sensitive.

JT has a board, posted a story about a child being killed in a terrible accident and people posted comments. Isn't that partly what this site is about? A place where people can state their opinions or rant a little if they want, right? It doesn't mean people are yelling at you when they post something that is different from you.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

1 years old. Yeah, its possible he did not see her. Specially if there were like bushes on the side of the road or something. Mom should have definitely been holding her hand. Also, some roads the speed are pretty already even if they are directly infront of a home. Anyway, a car hitting a baby at any speed is too fast. I feel bad for both people especially the mother. Both of them probably could have done something more to prevent this situation but hindsight is always 20/20.

The man should not get manslaughter unless that they can prove that he was negligent. I mean he is already gonna be messed up enough with this trauma in his mind.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Maiko, perhaps you could read all of Yuri's posts? If anyone is sensitive...

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

I see this situation all too often.Little ones walking aimlessly into streets.I don't blame the driver,they can't see a child of that height.I think that Mothers should start taking some responsibility.RIP

0 ( +1 / -1 )

A one year old should not be on the street unsupervised.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

RIP little baby in Saitama. I also feel so bad for this old driver.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The car driver doesn't need the self rightious law punishing him...the "accident" outcome is punnishmnet enough. I am from Canada and many of our sidewalks are as wide as streets here....I am a freakazoid about my 2 year old getting anywhere near a road here. I find it mind boggling there are no sidewalks in most places here? Just so many blind spots and overall visual business to catch everything when driving. THat is why I don't bother driving over here, it's just to risky and I drive bus profecionally back home. The mom doesn't need us bashing her neither...she will regret this for the rest of her life.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

How the hell does a one year old get hit by a car? It is due to the negligence of the mother and the driver of the car. Not enough care and attention is given to children in regards to traffic safety in this country. I always see kids bouncing around inside cars in front of me when they should be restrained by seat belts. I also see kids playing on or near the roads with as little regard for their safety as the drivers on the road next to them. Driving in this country is a nightmare and I have never seen such careless and selfish drivers in my life. This story echos an incident in China where a two year old was killed by a car just outside the front door of her house. I expect a story like this from China but not Japan which is rated as a first world country yet after living here for the past six years I feel it is anything but due to it's incredible lack of caring for children. There have already been several cases of children being killed by their parents here this year already. I have seen many children left unattended in cars at the supermarket or the hundred yen store and have been constantly subjected to the cries of Mama mama while at the supermarket while some little boy or girl desperately looks for their mother. They stand in the middle of the store yelling and crying for what seems like forever for the rest of us shoppers and I wonder why the mother hadn't noticed that her child is missing nor can she hear it's call. It amazes me that people can be so selfish as to not pay attention to their child crying alone in the middle of a supermarket.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

everyone blaming the mother should step back a moment. They walked out to the garbage disposal area. In my neighborhood that is pretty much standing in the road. Mom had hands full of garbage and was setting them down. 1 year old kids wander away fast. She just wandered away at the wrong time. In my neighborhood sometimes people who technically are not speeding are still going too fast and I have seen far too many kids just bolt into the streets and the mothers running as fast as possible and the drivers slamming on the breaks as fast as possible.

Not sure if the man was paying close attention or driving too fast for a neighborhood but both parties didn't do anything on purpose and it is cruel to blame both of them heavily with so little evidence.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Accidents happen. the mother didn't intend the baby to die, the driver didn't intend to kill. It is all avoidable, but actually, it happened. We are the lucky ones who can learn from this tragedy, and be more careful with our children, and be more attentive when driving. Lets not pretend that it couldn't happen to any one of us!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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