crime

Child dies in hospital after being struck by car in Tokyo

52 Comments

A 19-month-old boy died in hospital Tuesday after being hit by a car in Komae City, police said Wednesday.

Masao Kuriyama, 68, was arrested for negligent driving. According to police, Kuriyama turned left off Setagaya Avenue into a narrow lane and hit the boy at 10.30 a.m. Tuesday. Police said the boy was walking behind a woman entrusted with his care when he was hit by the rear wheel of Kuriyama’s vehicle. He was taken to hospital but confirmed dead an hour later.

Kuriyama was quoted by police as saying: “I never saw the boy, and only realized he was there after I hit him.”

© Wire reports

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I was afraid I was going to read about how the person who hit the boy was under the influence. However, it seems that it was a genuine accident, and if anyone is at fault it's the woman for not keeping a better eye on the boy on such small roads, and the municipal government for not providing safe walkways. Since the latter is not bound to happen any time soon, the former must be maintained with the utmost vigilance. In any case, a very sad story.

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a very unfortunate accident. my parents-in-law live in Komae, and streets are awfully narrow there. and a 19 month old in very difficult to see and very unpredictable in his movement

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Dumb adult, keep child in view at ALL times!

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Police said the boy was walking behind a woman entrusted with his care

I see this sometimes in Osaka. kids crossing the street while walking behind their parent. It is definitely not normal. Most people know how to take care of kids. My point is, If he/she had taken the child's hand, the chances of this accident happening would have reduced dramatically. he/she should be arrested for negligent care giving.

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How can you keep an eye on a toddler walking behind you?

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Why the heel wasn't she holding onto a 19 month old's hand? I see this all to often in Japan. Toddlers between one and four years old just wondering off on their own. Usually the parent or carer is within two or three meters, but that is too far away for a toddler. They are too fast and unpredictable to do anything from 3m away. This so-called 'accident' is the result of such bad judgment. A so-called 'accident' that should never have happened!

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I second that Romulus.

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Walking behind you? The caregiver should also get charged in this case. Small children are to be watched at all times. Unless the caregiver is a real alien (from the planet Lod - where the folks have eyes in the back of their heads), I cannot see how they were keeping an eye on this poor child.

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Cleo, By making the toddler walk in front or next to you at all times.

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Masao Kuriyama, 68, was arrested for negligent driving

Again.... What a country....

So what's the crime here...?

Was he going the wrong way on a one street, driving on the wrong side of the road, drunk, under the influence of drugs, speeding, driving recklessly..? What...

Or was it just an accident, as if somebody walks out into the street in front of an on-coming car....

It appears that he was just driving normally and lawfully, and this "Caregiver" wasn't doing her job and watching this 19 month old properly...

If you're going to assign fault, at least give it to the right person, so that it might actually prevent a future re-occurrence of a similar accident...

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How can you keep an eye on a toddler walking behind you?

You hold their hand when you are crossing a street...

Unless this guy actually drove up onto the sidewalk and into their living room and then struck the boy....

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I think the woman should be charged too (what the hell was she doing? on her keitai?). But unless she abused the child nothing will happen and the blame will solely go to the other individual which is sad. This doesnt surprise me as kids run around freely without seatbelts and the parents arent held accountable. The article however doesnt mention the speed. People turn corners a hundred miles an hour and dont pay attention. I`ve almost been hit countless times...Maybe there were skid marks which would indicate negligence and therefore punishment is due.

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Sorry that is totally the fault of the caretaker not the driver, the caretaker should be arrested for not taking care of the baby and letting it walk behide them!

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Japans traffic laws are crazy. Unless the story leaves out something, this is clearly the fault of caregiver, not the driver. How in the world can you let a 1 1/2 year old walk behind you in the city? Insane.

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How can you keep an eye on a toddler walking behind you?

That was a rhetorical question, folks, not a literal one. The question from Cleo was, "How could the caregiver possibly think that s/he could successfully watch the child if the child was following behind?"

It's a valid question.

The caregiver is at fault here, not the driver of the car.

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Seriously, Japan seems to be in desperate need of a bare-bones, common-sense Parenting 101 course for anyone who has any intention of caring for children at some point in their lives. The vast amount of sheer, unmitigated stupidity on display daily here, from driving with infants in your lap to sending your 4-year old to the market to pick up eggs, is astonishing.

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I just reread the story after reading all the comments and I realized I missed the part where the driver himself was charged with negligence. I missed it because it seems so painfully obvious that he is not at all at fault, where the caregiver should be charged. This is yet another example of Japan's a$$-backward laws and assignation of punishment, etc.

Did you know, according to law, that if you are in your car at a stop-light and someone crashes into you (while turning, from behind, or what have you) you automatically assume some of the blame simply for being in your car? It's only a small amount, but it gets rid of that shiny gold license, bumps up insurance premiums, etc. There should be no faulting where it's not due... the guy didn't see the 19 month old kid, which is perfectly understandable; you can't just charge the guy because someone died, and dismiss the caregiver because she's going to 'suffer enough' (I know I'm jumping the gun here, but I can just see the judge uttering the words).

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"DRIVER BEWARE!!"

'nough said...

S

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Need more information. If he was speeding around the corner he should be nailed. Bottom line.

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Being a father of two kids in Japan, Drivers are very aggressive here, Ive had a few close calls, BUT u must walk beside the kid or right behind the kid not in front Also carry the kid near and crossing at intersections...I see some parents or whoever walking with the child behind them thinking the kid is going to keep up with them...ALSO PLEASE CHECK TO SEE IF THE PERSON WAS NOT TEXTING OR CHATTING ON THE PHONE at the time< IVE seen many mothers doing this with no regard to their child, I feel its 50/50 in this case but the size of the kid and the car Im sure the driver possibly most likely did not see the child, children can change direction suddenly especially at that age...peace out

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According to Japanese law, you will be arrested for negligent driving if you hit someone - whether you were breaking any traffic laws or not.

For example, if you are driving on the correct side, under the speed limit obeying all the traffic rules and a drunk guy runs in front of you, you will be arrested if you hit him.

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Did you know, according to law, that if you are in your car at a stop-light and someone crashes into you (while turning, from behind, or what have you) you automatically assume some of the blame simply for being in your car? It's only a small amount, but it gets rid of that shiny gold license, bumps up insurance premiums, etc.

I don't think that's right. A few years ago Mr. Cleo was rear-ended at a stop light. Didn't affect his license, insurance premiums or anything. We got a new car out of the other party's insurance.

Im sure the driver possibly most likely did not see the child, children can change direction suddenly especially at that age

Not if the caretaker is hanging onto their little hand and watching them, they can't.

LFRAgain - Thank you for the translation. I'll try to write in English in future... :-)

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I'm surprised so many of you wish to exonerate the driver. With the little info given, I agree the caregiver was probably negligent, but on the basis of the same information I suspect the driver was negligent too. Every road user has a duty to exercise sufficient care to avoid accidents (and in this country in practice a legal duty to avoid accidents with 'smaller' road users).

There are many narrow streets with insufficient space for a car to pass while a pedestrian walks around an obstacle such as a utility pole. The words 'narrow lane' in the article suggest it was such a street. The driver should be aware of the lack of space in that street, and of pedestrians' apparent tendency to pay no attention to traffic.

I don't suppose there will be any investigation into whether the boy ran out from behind an obstacle, or that we would hear about it even if that were the case.

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SmithinJapan,

Did you know, according to law, that if you are in your car at a stop-light and someone crashes into you (while turning, from behind, or what have you) you automatically assume some of the blame simply for being in your car?

This is absolutely untrue. Do you even own a car in Japan? If you are stopped it is 100% the other drivers fault. I've had the misfortune of being hit from behind twice. Once while stopped at a red light and once while in stop and go traffic. In both cases the other drivers insurance not only paid for all of the damages but for all of the medical bills (one of the companies also called me personally on several occasions to check on my condition). Not only that but the police determined at the scene that the other drivers were completely at fault after interviewing both myself and the other drivers. There is even a section on the accident report where the victim can specifically demand certain compensation.

There are a lot of myths about Japanese road laws floating around out there. I suggest you do a bit of homework before making such false statements.

As for this case, my guess is that the driver will be released without incident, as happens in most cases. He won't be sent to prosecutors and he won't be found guilty.

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He won't be sent to prosecutors and he won't be found guilty.

If he wasn't actually negligent, that is.

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The makings of the perfect storm here:

Inattentive "caregiver",

68 year old driver

“I never saw the boy, and only realized he was there after I hit him.”

small, hard-to-see child. Very bad combination.

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BTW, does nobody else think it's strange that the driver hit the child with his rear tire while driving forward? Something very suspicious about that little fact.

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thunder's right and smith's wrong. If you're stopped, and someone else hits you, it's the other driver's fault. By the same token, if a kid jumps out from behind a pole or parked car and you hit him, it's your fault, even though it's really the kid's fault.

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Cleo,

LOL! Sorry. Your English was perfectly fine, but apparently some posters didn't notice.

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If he was speeding around the corner he should be nailed. Bottom line.

If he was speeding around the corner, the he should have hit the "caretaker" first.

does nobody else think it's strange that the driver hit the child with his rear tire while driving forward? Something very suspicious about that little fact.

Not really, if the child ran into the path of a turning car.

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For example, if you are driving on the correct side, under the speed limit obeying all the traffic rules and a drunk guy runs in front of you, you will be arrested if you hit him.

That would depend if you leave the scene of the accident or stay...

I know of a case first hand in which an old lady (70+), walked out into traffic and was hit by a car, she died (driven by a SOFA military person) and there was NO arrest, the person wasn't even detained.... 15 minutes of questioning and a statement... That was it... No charges... Nothing...

It was in broad daylight and there were witnesses, and of course the driver wasn't drinking....

Now I can't say the same thing would happened to non-military, probably not...

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How is the child hit by the rear wheel and not the front? Care-giver should be charged. Parents/care givers here suck. I feel sorry for the driver. THIS is exactly why there are so many hit and runs in this country.

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i have three kids and i always make sure that i take a close look at them when crossing the pedestrian lane. some drivers here are so careless, like taxi drivers and even those young & punky guys..they really overspeed and really do not care.

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I know the law... But I always tried to tell my kids the following:

The "Law of gross tonnage" does not favor you vs. vehicle. You will lose everytime.

Will your mother and I be any less grieving because it was somebody else's fault?

If you are riding your bike, and shoot out into the road while trying to turn onto a sidewalk, like everyone else seemingly does, I will give you the evil eye. And they don't like the evil eye, because it's the precurser to the "this is gonna hurt me more than it will you" speech and all that entails. And no... it hurts them more.

If you let go of my hand while we are walking, that big bad truck is gonna run you over TWICE and I'm gonna have to apologize to the driver for getting his tires dirty. Then you get the evil eye.

They made it, so it must have worked.

Yes, there are vapid twats driving around this country, but there are just as many, if not more, vapid idiots on foot. As I drive I always try to pay particular attention when pedestrian's are around. Especially anyone between the ages 1 to 99.

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I never saw the boy, and only realized he was there after I hit him.

Well... thank god you didn't realize he was there BEFORE you hit him.

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As I drive I always try to pay particular attention when pedestrian's are around. Especially anyone between the ages 1 to 99.

Yep! I've gotta give 100% agreement to this. I drive everyday (only to yochien and back) and I have to dodge some idiot pedestrian or bicycle rider flying out of a side street at least once every day without fail! Then, there are the drivers flying around the narrow streets at speeds that should only be used on a highway. I have been abused by Japanese drivers for driving at the speed limit and for stopping at a red light (not orange). I always make sure to drive as slow and cautiously as possible. It also gives me a chance to annoy some of these fools racing through back streets. Gambling is illegal in Japan until you get on the roads, then it is mandatory!

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thundercat you are so wrong. Police in Japan do not determine guilt. They have told me this directly when I was in an accident 3 months ago. I was parked on the side of a road and a car sideswiped me. I was 5% wrong. The insurance companies in Japan lay a percentage base to every accident. Nothing is 100% in Japan. Nothing! But by the time all the "gomen" money was paid, I really didn't care.

As for this little boy, not sure what happened. I see so many adults walking down the middle of the street letting their kids run wild. Was the child alone. Was she holding it's hand? Was she shopping and letting the kid play in the street? So many things are unanswered here.

As for the man. Nothing society can do can fix the hurt he must live with for the rest of his life.

And for those of you who want to rant. On December 4th 7 years ago my father was killed in an accident in the U.S. The fault was the person who didn't stop at the red light. (an 18 year old person) While he didn't face prosecution, he will need to live with the rest of his life that he killed someone.

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Such quote from driver:” I never saw the boy, and only realized he was there after I hit him.”... It is possibility! Children are like elastics and springs. One moment they are here and the next moment they are in the next spot. If driver was spoeeding, drunk or on drugs, I would say yes, go and charge him. But in this case I think the driver shouldn't be charged. Further deep investigation is required to satisfy law. If there is insufficient space in such lines than cars shouldn't be allowed to pass through. This need review by police with recomandationh to pass new 'rodas law bill.'

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To weigh in on the "No fault" argument simmering here, I too have been told that there is no such thing in Japan as a driver being 100% at fault. In any given accident, everyone is at fault, and it is only the matter of by what degree that is later determined. Yes, even if you're sitting in a parked car on the side of the road.

A police officer explained it to me this way: By taking to the roads in Japan at all, all drivers assume equal responsibility for what happens on those roads. Since driving is a privilege and not a right, the only way to avoid blame is to not drive at all. After all, if there were no parked car there in the first place, then there would be nothing for anyone else to hit.

I'm not saying I agree with this way of thinking, but that's how it's been explained to me, both by the police and by my insurance company.

When it comes to what gets paid out later by various insurance companies, that is something that is fought over between them, and is not determined by law.

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Always see tiny kids 5 meters infront or behind of their parent, and that is probably what happened here. A kid that small should be right next to the carer, unless they are in a park. Carers fault too

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Noborito,

Sorry, I'm not wrong (especially since I never said the police determine guilt or innocence, that is for a court to decide). Police can and certainly do determine who is at fault in accidents when there is clearly one party responsible(otherwise every minor accident would end up in the court system). It would be pretty unbelievable to me that I could be in 2 separate accidents where the other driver was found 100% at fault if they aren't able to do this. As I said, at the scene of the second accident, the police asked me to write what kind of 'punishment' I saw fit for the other driver and there was a clearly marked section on the accident report form for exactly that purpose. Now, why do you suppose such a section would be included on the report if they do not determine fault? I don't know about the specifics about your accident but I would guess that you were found partly at fault precisely because you were 'parked' or 'stopped' on the side of the road as there are very few places where you can do this legally.

If you are ever in an accident INSIST that you were not moving at the time and I guarantee it will go a long way in helping your case ;)

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"Care giver"?? What the hell kind of "care" was she or he giving to this poor little 19 month old toddler? Not much care and just an over all horrible story! RIP little toddler.

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I am scared to drive in Japan after driving in my home country for some months... here the responsability of the accident is not the drivers one if the pedestrian, ... is on the car-way, except pedestrian crossing... And I can say that from when this new rules are existing, the car-pedestrian incidents decreased (also if the pedestrian is causing the accident and there are damages to the car, driver or other people involved in the accident, he-the pedestrian- will have to pay damages and panishment !) How to drive safety in Japan if nobody is respecting the elementar rule "self-protection" ?

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You can hit someone with your back wheel if you're speeding around a corner (exactly as this person was doing). It's called skidding. In fact, you can even hit someone with the top roof of your vehicle. I've seen one person flip his car upside down due to speeding around a turn and braking too late, bumping over the sidewalk curb full speed.

Many states in the US and other countries have "no fault" (i.e. everyone at fault) rules on driving, and they drive safe there. Fault only matters there in cases of gross negligence or wrecklessness (i.e. if a crime occurred, which doesn't apply to most driving accidents). This isn't taken to mean the driver is automatically 100% at fault, there's no such thing.

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If you do drive away (hit and run), it's a crime no matter who was at fault. The crime is for leaving the scene of an accident, not causing it.

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People can sometimes easily end up in marriages due to social pressure and convenience. As a result they can find themselves in loveless marriages and consequently children they produce are again due to social pressure. I see too many parents treating kids as accessories, or burdens rather than a young person to love and bring up properly. Too many times I see women walking with their crying kid, and they are more concerned their image (her kid is crying she must be a bad mother) than the reason their little tyke is crying. I see too few women that show a deep and honest affection for thier kids.

If you loved and cared about the kid, this would never have happened. If the kid is just another responsiblity in your life, oh well.

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Many states in the US and other countries have "no fault" (i.e. everyone at fault) rules on driving, and they drive safe there

Great Britain - In Great Britain the Department of Environment, Transport, and the Regions reports that motor vehicle accidents accounted for 327,544 injuries in 1997 with 42,967 serious injuries and 3,599 fatalities.

US: The 1998 NHTSA report "Traffic Safety Facts 1998 Annual Report" reports 41,471 fatalities and 3,192,000 injuries, 414,960 of them serious.

In Japan, a recent National Organization for Automotive Safety & Victims Aid (OSA) report " Status of recent road traffic accidents" states that in 1998 fatalities and injuries due to road accidents in Japan totalled 999,886, with motor vehicle occupants accounting for 608,697, or 61% of the total. Although the report did not include the exact number of fatalities, we estimate that 1998 fatalities numbered about 12,000 with approximately 129,000 serious injuries.

'They drive safe there' means roughly twice as many fatalities and serious injuries, proportional to the population?

Moderator: Readers, please stay on topic. Comparisons to other countries are irrelevant to this discussion. References to train accidents are also irrelevant.

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In America, I almost always saw parents holding their children's hands or having them walk beside them. If a parent let their kid run around everyone around them would look at them like "what's wrong with you??" But in Japan it seems normal. When I walk around outside, there have been so many times I saw a toddler run past me, and I look around and the Mom is 3 meters behind me just walking normally, not even calling the child's name or doing anything.

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How many times have I seen a woman (sorry but it usually is women) walking down the street alongside a busy road completely oblivious to the todder trailing along 20 yards behind her. This was a disaster just waiting to happen and Im surprised it doesnt happen more often.

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US: The 1998 NHTSA report "Traffic Safety Facts 1998 Annual Report" reports 41,471 fatalities and 3,192,000 injuries, 414,960 of them serious. In Japan, a recent National Organization for Automotive Safety & Victims Aid (OSA) report " Status of recent road traffic accidents" states that in 1998 fatalities and injuries due to road accidents in Japan totalled 999,886, with motor vehicle occupants accounting for 608,697, or 61% of the total. Although the report did not include the exact number of fatalities, we estimate that 1998 fatalities numbered about 12,000 with approximately 129,000 serious injuries. 'They drive safe there' means roughly twice as many fatalities and serious injuries, ****proportional to the population

Cleo: Which population: the driving population or the total population? A logical person would assume that a greater percentage of the population drives in the U.S. I'm not so sure you are comparing fairly. Not only are there far more drivers in the U.S. per capita, they drive much greater distances over the course of a year. What we need to compare is a ratio such as accidents:driving occurrences to determine which country drives more safely.

I will give the Japanese this: they have stunning depth perception. It must be from driving and living in narrow places for so long along with their incredibly flat faces.

Is anyone recording the number of close calls? I have, much like "Disillusioned wrote" at least 1-3 close calls a day. I would guess I had 1-3 a year in the U.S. I hate hate hate driving in Japan. Driving in the U.S. on a recent trip was such a pleasure made more so by years of infuriation from driving in Japan. You can see why so many continue to drive frequently there. Take 1-80 E from San Francisco to Reno and you'll know why.

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LFRAgain "100%" agree with you. My in-law was waiting on red light when suddenly old man hit her from left side. Police told her that she has 10% fault. Reason...well, she was waiting for green light in not right time and moment. If she werent there old man wouldn@t hit her. JAPAN, JAPAN...country without law. I drive everyday too and see whats going on. Everyone is like "holy cow" here, because they know if you hit them it will always be your fault because you are "a car".

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My condolences to the child's family.

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