Lawyer for 89-year-old driver of car that killed woman, 3-year-old daughter blames faulty brake


The trial of an 89-year-old man charged with dangerous driving resulting in death resumed in Tokyo on Monday.

Mana Matsunaga, 31, and her daughter, Riko, 3, were fatally hit by a driver in Tokyo's Ikebukuro District on April 19, 2019. Kozo Iizuka, 89, a former senior bureaucrat of the now-defunct Agency of Industrial Science and Technology, has pleaded not guilty to negligent driving resulting in death.

Prosecutors maintain Iizuka went through a red light after pressing the accelerator instead of the brake pedal. His car, traveling at more than 90 kilometers per hour, swerved before hitting Matsunaga and her daughter who were on a bicycle.

In his opening statement, Iizuka’s lawyer claimed that Iizuka was innocent of involuntary manslaughter because he "pressed the brake pedal, but it failed to slow the car down,” Fuji TV reported. The lawyer said Iizuka’s car was more than 10 years old and that its braking system had deteriorated over time.

Iizuka's lawyer added, "The car's electronic components caused a malfunction that prevented the brakes from properly working."

However, an inspection of Iizuka's car after the accident found nothing wrong with the brake or pedal. When prosecutors questioned whether Iizuka might have accidentally pressed accelerator in a moment of panic, his defense attorney replied, “Mr Iizuka has maintained he did not.”

After the hearing, Takuya Matsunaga, 34, who was Mana’s husband and Riko’s father, expressed his disappointment at Iizuka’s refusal to take responsibility for his actions.

After the incident, Iizuka was indicted without arrest in February this year triggering a public outcry that he had been given preferential treatment due to his former government position, Kyodo News reported.

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Guilty as charged. The victims' families should sue him for all he's worth.

18 ( +18 / -0 )

Unbelievable. A coward until

the end. Any proof of the car not working? No. Plenty of proof that the driver was negligent, unfit to drive, and callous in the way he murdered two people. He deserves to be hung, despite his age. Give him a death befitting of his character.

22 ( +22 / -0 )

It's obviously TOYOTA fault. They probably didn't do the break check.

To be honest I find Japanese cars not so great anymore. They were much better in the past.

-22 ( +1 / -23 )

This is an example of how far they’re willing to take it. They’d rather die than to lose face.

Even if your brakes don’t work, why would you be going 90 kph?

22 ( +22 / -0 )

Even if the brakes were faulty (which is bovine~), the driver is still culpable because he should not have been driving the car in that condition.

And in any case, as others have stated, depressing the brake pedal, even with the brake lines cut, would not have caused the car to accelerate to 90 km/h.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

'Out of millions of cars produced his just happened to be the one with faulty breaks? Has nothing at all to do with age? Incompetence, his defense is further proof that the entitled just don’t care. It’s always someone else’s fault they killed a mother and child.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Car brakes, even in a 10 years old vehicle NEVER EVER exhibit the malfunction (sudden loss of all braking power) this driver claims. Besides, how did he reached 90km/h? Coward old jerk, man up and own your mistake. Anything less than 10 years would be an unfair sentence, and I don't care he's 90 and risks dying in prison.. So be it then.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Worst defense ever. I doubt there is any evidence the brake wasnt working. He wanted to beat the red, simple as that.

Throw the book at this man. 15 years in the slammer would be adequate. Rest in Peace to the poor mother and child.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

The car was examined by mechanics after the accident and it checked out fine. Do not know why the article did not mention that fact. The guy is senile most likely and does believe he did not run over the mother and child while pressing on the accelerator rather than the break. But that is exactly what he did do.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

He should be prostrate at the grave repenting every day. 89 years old and a complete lack of character.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

The man continuing with this false accusation, the car has already been dismantled and checked, is prima facie evidence that he has no remorse.

Give him the maximum sentence possible.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

The car inspection is every two years. It’ll show the brakes work and the age of the car would be irrelevant.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Even if the brake didn't work (Narrator: "it did"), he would still be guilty of driving at least 90kph in a zone which undoubtedly (because of the traffic lights) doesn't allow such speed, causing the death of 2 people.

You could also argue that going far in excess of the speed limit, failing to maintain your car in a safe manner and killing 2 people is possibly even worse. A "shaken" car check only gives you a snapshot of your vehicle's condition. It is up to the owner to ensure it is maintained properly and is safe to drive on the road - which he didn't. Of course this is all moot - he clearly hit the accelerator.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

The brakes work fine; you don't.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

blames faulty brake

Well it is his job to find whatever he can to put his client in a better light, but if a "faulty brake" is the best he can come up with, good luck...

7 ( +7 / -0 )

After the incident, Iizuka was indicted without arrest in February this year triggering a public outcry that he had been given preferential treatment due to his former government position

it is time to cancel all car accident-related arrests in this case. BTW the expensive car inspection is faulty as well. The GOV is guilty....

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Whatever punishment a guilty verdict would give should be doubled when the defendant is clearly lying and wasting everyone's time.

In this case, he's either lying and mistook the brake for the accelerator, or he's telling truth and the brake was faulty - but that would mean he was driving at 90mph which I presume he isn't admitting to.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Yes, it was inflammatory but this was just his attorney's opening statement. It might be the central premise of his defence, or it might be a distraction to divert the prosecutor's attention from a different theory the defence will advance as the trial goes on.

Do not expect integrity from the defence. The defendant has been showing up in a walker attempting to gain some pity for his frail, advanced age (not realizing that the rest of us think someone who needs a walker are thoroughly convinced he should never should have been behind the wheel.) Misdirection is a renowned trial strategy.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The brakes not working would be one thing, but how does he explain his vehicle also traveling at 90kmph, hmmm?

Someone gave his car a massive shunt?

What isn’t working is perhaps his brain and or his conscience

5 ( +5 / -0 )

You guys are all nuts, Toyota cars are renowned the world over for not braking, leaking oil, bits falling off, and randomly exploding. His defense is rock solid.

Seriously though, calling this guy scum befouls the reputation of scum.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Guilty as charged!!! Its interesting that the attorney didn't mention the manufacture of the car since he pointed blame there. Very cruel logic especially when the car was reported as having no problems. By not mentioning the name brand they dodge a potential slandering law suit.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In addition I guess he should be blaming the car manufacture for faulty brakes and the inspect station for failing to recognize he had faulty brakes and who ever gave him a license to drive and his doctor for not noticing he lost his mind.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Driver error and infraction number 1:

I can't tell you the exact number of times that Tokyo drivers--young and old--blasted through intersections to beat a red, threading their way through the pedestrians already in the crosswalk. The first time it happened I was just stepping off the curb. After that I was consistently cautious, always hung back a few seconds and double-checked that it was safe before crossing.

Driver error and infraction number 2:

The responsibility of the owner of the car to insure that the vehicle is sound and properly maintained. With mandatory 2 year inspections that record should be accessible to any court. Here the vehicle's owner/driver is at fault if indeed the brakes were faulty.

Driver error and infraction number 3:

If that indeed is what may have happened, hitting the gas instead of the brake is on the driver.

Free pass in spite of the law and the circumstances:

The driver is former senior bureaucrat with a weasel lawyer.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

He is old, and connected, and will drag this out until he dies of natural causes. But on his Deathbed, his two victims will be there waiting for him

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The lawyer said Iizuka’s car was more than 10 years old and that its braking system had deteriorated over time.

If that is the case, it would mean that Japanese cars are crap. 10 years old is not old enough to have faulty brakes. But I'm pretty sure it wasn't the braking system had deteriorated over time, but Iizuka's mental capacities. The idiot shouldn't have been behind a wheel.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Throw that entitled old git in jail where he belongs.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Iizuka was indicted without arrest in February this year triggering a public outcry that he had been given preferential treatment due to his former government position

If it were you or me, it wouldn't even have made news. If it did, we, as a foreigner would've brandished ALL over the tv/media outlets. We'd have been thrown in the slammer without a 1st thought. But this fella is getting away with his crime? Face your responsibilities and stop hiding behind the thin veil of "the upper crust"!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

To the Slammer - You old foot jammer! No exceptions.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Sir Bentey.

He is currently on trial and may well be found guilty. He sounds guilty to me.

He isn't "getting away with his crime."

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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