crime

Driver arrested after 7-year-old boy run over, killed in Chiba

43 Comments

Police in Sakura, Chiba Prefecture, on Friday arrested a 70-year-old man after the car he was driving ran over and killed a 7-year-old boy.

According to police, the boy, Kai Emoto, was walking home alone from elementary school at around 3 p.m. on Thursday when he was hit by a car, TV Asahi reported. He was taken to hospital where he succumbed to his injuries six hours later.

The driver of the vehicle, Isao Usami, has been charged with negligent driving resulting in injury and death. He was quoted by police as saying that the boy had appeared suddenly from a side street and run into the path of his car.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

43 Comments
Login to comment

damn, another one. Im not gonna play the blame game. I feel terribly sorry for those parents.

9 ( +8 / -0 )

If the kid ran out of a side street, how on earth was this man supposed to stop?? I'm getting really tired of kids being hit by cars but I am also really tired of seeing kids running around and expecting everyone and everything to stop for me. Road safety needs to be taught to all, not just drivers!

9 ( +10 / -3 )

cars in motion don't stop instantly...but kids will always be kids. The question is why is the kid walking alone on his way home?

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

He was quoted by police as saying that the boy had appeared suddenly from a side street and run into the path of his car.

Probably an accurate description of what happened. Kids this age have very little awareness of others around them, and he was probably in his own little 7-year-old world. On the other hand, the man is 70 and probably his peripheral vision has declined, so he couldn't see the little boy suddenly appear from the sidestreet. Or he just could have been driving too fast. Tragic. RIP Kai... Sorry old man, even if it wasn't completely your fault, you're life is over.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I tell my kids over and over, "If you get hit by a car, you lose! So, always be careful."

7 ( +7 / -0 )

How about installing pavements (sidewalks) on all streets. Not just the wide main streets. Of course we see everywhere and on nearly all back and side streets that public safety is a secondary concern for the developers and city planners.

Most back and side streets are very dangerous by design for pedestrians. i.e. no segregation between soft easily damaged people and hard heavy motor vehicles... Throw into the mix very old drivers, slow reaction speeds, poor eyesight and observational skills and suddenly children start to appear (claimed of course) out of nowhere and run in front of the car......

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Miki, seven is fine to be walking home alone - as long as they are taught how to be safe!

5 ( +5 / -1 )

@mikihouse

The question is why is the kid walking alone on his way home?

If you live in Japan, especially Tokyo; you should've noticed little kids ride the train alone as well as walk around various neighborhoods. I thing it's is a cultural thing in Japan, small children can walk around without an adult.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

tmarie - If the kid ran out of a side street, how on earth was this man supposed to stop??

It is the responsibility of the driver to be traveling at a speed where he can react to unsuspected events such as, a kid running out of a side street. Do you remember that from your licence testing? Do you have a licence? I would lay money on the driver rushing to get to the next green light. Although, in my street, they also rush to get to the red light. Go figure?

0 ( +4 / -5 )

If you have been in Japan long enough you have seen houses located just centimeters from busy streets. If you trip coming out of your house you will literally fall onto the road. There is no room for a sidewalk in many places. Others are correct. More emphasis needs to be put on safety. Driving safety, child safety, road safety, and safety from abusive parents all need to be addressed.

11 ( +10 / -0 )

i tend to believe the old man... I see this all the time. The time was just after school. Kids are excited to be going home.. running around...jumping.. Only 7.. thats why I teach my kids to stop on each corner.. and look....

4 ( +5 / -1 )

don't find this news surprising at all and there will always be more to come. I've lost count of the number of times I've witnessed the callous attitude of parents here towards their child's safety especially road safety. Children as young as 4 or 5 years old are expected to walk alone to their schools which can be over 5 kilometers away. I have witness 2 boys age 7 or 8 playing catch in the middle of the road crossing while the parents were busy loading groceries into the car. I have witness a father letting his son run amok on the train platform going beyond the yellow line nonchalant. I have witness a 4 year old girl running behind to keep up with her parents who were walking briskly across the road. I have witness all the above in just 1 week. Yep, you will definitely be reading more of such "unfortunate" accidents for as long as this kind of parenting is accepted, tolerated and even applauded here in the name of training the kid to be independent.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

If you trip coming out of your house you will literally fall onto the road. There is no room for a sidewalk in many places.

Certainly true, and if there's that little room between houses, then automobiles shouldn't be allowed on those roads. The fact that even roads as thin as 2 meters wide are made to accommodate cars is an invitation to disaster. Banning cars from those spaces would guarantee the physical safety of the people walking there, but would come at the expense of some convenience for drivers. I suppose drivers' convenience is so important to local governments that they're willing to accept injuries and deaths of non-drivers, which is sad indeed.

2 ( +2 / -1 )

Japan is a small, crowded country with too many people in a bloody hurry to get from here to there not just cars, but kids on bicycles etc... time to slow down!!! RIP little boy from Chiba

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Just from daily commute on bike across Tokyo on major streets,I have a feeling that the driver tells the truth. Most people here are like zombies and dont get me started on parents with kids...

Just 2 days ago, major street linking Meguro and Ebisu , kid opens car door and sprints in front of all cars and me across the frekking street to conveni,while his Dad stands near car and smokes. I nearly got hit from the car behind cause had to brake erratically.... and this kind of stuff happens daily.

In the case above I actually stopped and lashed out proper at dad in my extremely rude street japanese.

Honestly though I will support change of rules that say drivers CAN and SHOULD hit any pedestrian not crossing as they should with no punishment.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

How stupid is the law when a person can run in front of you and you are held responsible for their actions.

Having had this happen to me recently l was driving through a residential area and had a child less than 5yo run out and across the road causing me to brake heavily and swerve. I can just imagine now what would have happened if l had hit this kid.

I fully understand and agree that drivers should take responsibility for their actions. But so to should other road users whether they be cyclists, or pedestrians. You can be doing the speed limit or below and being extra careful and someone else makes a poor decision and you get charged for it. That is just ridiculous.... And when it comes to kids and roads the parents need to also shoulder some of the blame. In my case the parent watched the whole incident and merely bowed and walked of while l sat there fuming at this stupid idiot kid.

4 ( +8 / -3 )

Oh God not again. I have no idea who was at fault here - probably a bit of both as the boy ran out, but the guy couldnt avoid him - but I just feel really really sad.

My husband walks my kids to school in the morning but they come home alone. I only allow that because the place we live in now has huge wide pavements (about 4 metres wide) with barriers all the way between the road and the pavement, and a crossing attendant at the one street they need to cross. But in our old place I didnt allow it -narrow streets, no pavements, and no crossing attendants. It was terrifying.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I was having a driving lesson yesterday and the same thing nearly happened to me. 20mph in a residential street, watching left and right and without any warning a kid runs out straight into the street after a ball. Luckily I was alert and hit the brakes.

In this instance I don't blame the driver... he had no warning. It's fine driving along and carefully keeping an eye out for possible hazards, but when a child suddenly appears in front of you all you have are your reflexes and the quality of your brakes to rely on. Problem is we don't know if the car was going to fast, or if he was distracted... so little information in the story.

Even so, RIP little boy and I feel so sorry for his parents. Another little life lost.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Would be interesting if you could update some info about the speed that the old man was. Probably the child was doing a route designated for many other kids, the driver supposed to be aware about the time, speed and surprises. Everyone knows how narrow the streets are in JP, also we know that is very common kids walk alone in everywhere. Maybe is about time to review the rules about kids in the street. Every week things like this are happening, or by lack of respect from the drivers or by the bad parenting. BTW, I am also taking driving lessons and our instructors are very clear about how careful we should be, all the times.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I've seen/heard the same thing nearly happen to the same neighbor kid at least three times in the last year(he's six). My street was recently widened a couple blocks up, and now cars come zooming down the formerly very low traffic street.

This poor driver may have reacted too slowly, but the child probably did just run out into the street or suddenly step out. Very sad for both families.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If you live in Japan, especially Tokyo; you should've noticed little kids ride the train alone as well as walk around various neighborhoods. I thing it's is a cultural thing in Japan

Boy! this country sure has changed! A mother once asked me to teach her daughter and one of her daughter's friends French but I couldn't go to their house because our son was too young to leave alone - which also means he would be too young to take with me but in his own home, he would have been alright. They lived only two stops away by train but the mother looked horrified when I suggested they come to our place. "But they're only 11 years old! I'd never allow them to travel alone by train"! Of course, that was more than 20 years ago... as I said, times have changed!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I was driving around 3 pm in Sakura City and at just few meters from the site where this unfortunate accident happened. It is close to a rail crossing so I thought something big had happened since there were ambulances and police cars arriving, firetrucks, and even a helicopter flying in circles. The road is pretty narrow and curves, it is a route highly transited even by heavy trucks and most drivers speed there. I always avoid it since there are no pavements for pedestrians to safely walk so it is a very dangerous road for people and if children have to take that road for school and back home, they should be supervised all the time and by all means. Due to the conditions of that road, somebody suddenly stepping out is certainly to be hit. I do feel sad and sorry for both sides, RIP little boy.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It is very scary here with kids. I feel very sorry for young mans family. For parents in Japan we have to teach our children of the dangers when walking or riding bikes near or around cars. This year has been tough with so many children and adults killed at intersections and just walking down the road. The school system should teach bike and street safety to kids due to walkers, bikes and cars are sharing basically the same space. Also the police have to start enforcing traffic laws (SPEEDING, 5 - 10 second red light runners, kids not secured in moving cars (toddlers standing in the front seats of moving cars, babies setting on parents laps) . Japan also needs to make laws on bicycles more clear and educate the public and enforce clear rules. RIP Kai.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Patrick SmashJUN. 08, 2012 - 04:05PM JST And this idiotic Japanese idea that young children should walk home from schools alone claims another victim. It is not fine for 7 year-olds to walk across busy parts of cities, especially with lots of narrow streets, no speed bumps, no enforcement of traffic rules and often no paving. It is insane to insist children do this, and my 7-year-old does not. This was probably not the old man's fault, but another live has been lost."

Anyone who calls all Japanese "idiotic" is a pathetic idiot himself. Grow up, or head back home. This is a different world, and a much better one than where kids cannot walk alone safely. I am so disgusted by societies that are so dangerous that kids are not safe alone.

0 ( +5 / -6 )

@mitoguitarman: I think to be fair to Paddy Smash he was saying that the idea was idiotic, not "all Japanese" as you quote him as saying.

And to be honest, in a significant number of areas, it clearly is an idiotic idea, proven by the regular injuries and deaths and the frighteningly narrow streets here. Having said that though, there have also been a number of incidents lately where even supervised children have been killed and injured (3 recent cases spring to mind, one of which was reported on yesterday as going to trial) so maybe a bigger issue here is the idiotic driving for the conditions - narrow streets, no sidewalks, and unpredictable children call for extremely slow speed limits, speed bumps and extra caution.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

kevinintokyo - yes, very good point. My heart is breaking for this family. It is every parents worst nightmare - to get that phone call. And these parents were just doing what they thought was the right thing for their child, based on their own culture and societal norms. Cant really blame them for that. RIP little Kai kun.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It is the responsibility of the driver to be traveling at a speed where he can react to unsuspected events such as, a kid running out of a side street. Do you remember that from your licence testing? Do you have a licence? I would lay money on the driver rushing to get to the next green light. Although, in my street, they also rush to get to the red light. Go figure?

Are you kidding me? You have ZERO time to stop if some kid comes flying out of a side street regardless of whatever speed you are going. Which is why good parents teach their kids to stop, look and then cross the street. I've had to slam on my brakes numerous times here because people don't bother to look before crossing or come out of no where. Heaven forbid one of these days I don't have time. You'd be blaming me when you should be blaming the parents of this child for not teaching him how to be safe. Yet another dead kids due to lack of safety.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Drivers in Japan drive like maniacs, and kids do stupid things while walking.

I blame both of them !!!! SPEEDING THROUGH A RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD IS A GAMBLE.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Another week.......saga continues....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Big Paddy - Left Japan because of the roads and my concern or the safety of my children when walking. I just could not put my children at risk like that. I actually home schooled. However, when the children walked to school in groups I felt safe for the children.

Eminent domain is weak in Japan, I believe, or things would be different. They are a practical people but for the sake of harmony they do not want to upset the landowners, so the roads remain the same. Very sad and lives are lost. I hope it is not related to any kind of world view to where this is all an illusion anyway.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Despite this tragic event, the death toll of 15 years and under have decreased 33% from last year. (down from 33 end of April 2011 to 22 end of April 2012)

In fact, it's down 70% from 10 years ago.

The Kameoka tragedy has certainly given these kind of tragedy much more coverage but to characterize the situation here as some sort of "epidemic" need to get a clue.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The Town of Sakura is very small & rural-and Safe for kids, while tragic,accidents happen and I can't see why this driver is being bashed on this forum. as for youngsters on public transit.I wouldn't worry in Japan as people look out for kids & will help if possible.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Miki, seven is fine to be walking home alone - as long as they are taught how to be safe!

Evidently not. Seven is too young and the majority of parents would agree. If however you really do think 7 is "fine" then good luck to you and your kids, I for one think you are running a risk which is entirely out of your hands to prove a stupid point.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I guess I wrote the wrong word in my previous post... The country HAS changed a lot in the last 20 years but what I REALLY wanted to point out is that PARENTS seem to have changed even more! Personally, I thought 11 years old quite old enough to take a train alone but the mother, at that time, was horrified at the very thought...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There just seems to be a cultural belief that if a car hits you its not your fault....and therein lies the fault. People automatically think they can do whatever they want on the roads and cars will go around them...not an ounce of common sense! So sorry for the young boy and his family. My two young children walk to school on the insistence of the school along narrow roads...my wife does`t argue (japanese) I even offered to start work later to run them in the car and the school argued against that too....

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Paddy: if my kids were in the same situation as yours I would absolutely be walking them in too. Our school is less than 10 minutes away, across one admittedly busy crossing but staffed by a crossing attendant and very busy with pedestrians, and then huge, wide pavements all the way, the narrowest about 2-3 meters, and the widest a good 4-5 meters across. In fact, a bigger concern for us is the cyclists who think because it is a wide pavement they can bomb through there.

I like the idea in theory of giving the kids a bit of independance, BUT it very much depends on the individual circumstances, and the local environment. But that would involve making a judgement call on each situation, which is not one of this countrys strongpoints. Far easier to just apply a blanket statement to all.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Its not so much that speeding gets pedestrians hit. Its that not speeding helps save the lives of careless pedestrians. Speeding cars don't go invisible. Anybody who stops at the road can detect a car easily speeding or not, and wait for it to pass.

Almost guaranteed he was speeding though, as the limits here are insanely low, seemingly as a bid to guarantee you are speeding! Nobody would get anywhere if they obeyed these limits.

Anybody involved could have saved this kid's life, whether the parents, his teachers, a perfect stranger, or the kid himself. Last of all I would say the driver. Cars don't stop instantly, and the road was designed for cars, not people crossing it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I blame both of them !!!! SPEEDING THROUGH A RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD IS A GAMBLE.

Do you know this guy was speeding? At his age, he was probably driving under the limit.

The Kameoka tragedy has certainly given these kind of tragedy much more coverage but to characterize the situation here as some sort of "epidemic" need to get a clue.

I don't think anyone is claiming this is an epidemic. The thing is, accidents like this can easily be prevented with some basic safety rules taught to kids.

Seven is too young and the majority of parents would agree. If however you really do think 7 is "fine" then good luck to you and your kids, I for one think you are running a risk which is entirely out of your hands to prove a stupid point. I think the majority of parents disagree with YOU. Most kids in this country walk to ele school in packs, without adults. That is just how it is done here. I think seven is "fine" if the kids have been taught to be careful. I for one think you are running the risk of thinking you can always protect your child from danger. You might run the risk of teaching your child that they're safe as long as a parent is there which is dangerous. Mom was there with those kids in Kyoto and not only did she die, another child did as well.

And I don't think teaching kids to be safe is a "stupid" point.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Mongolikesbeans "Cars don't stop instantly, and the road was designed for cars, not people crossing it".

Only expressways were designed for cars, not people crossing, hence pedestrians and bicycles being prohibited. Everywhere else in the planet has the interaction of people and vehicles to greater or lesser success, perhaps with the exception of one country that springs to mind, where pedestrians are social pariahs.

The road was designed for access and use by all, whether on foot or wheels. The limits are low (but no lower than in many traffic-calmed European urban zones) for a very good reason. The only insane thing is your attitude to conditions which don't support the boy racer behaviour you so obviously love.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sense, which country are you referring to with the "social pariahs" comment?

Roads are designed for both foot and wheels but there are crosswalks for a reason, stop signs for a reason... A kid darting out of a side street and not paying attention to cars is an issue and one that I see here on a daily basis - the same can be said for cars not bothering to fully stop at stop signs and the like. Traffic safety in this country is a joke and it is costing lives. Something clearly needs to be done but who is going to do it? Until the government gets AKB to do a campaign, seems things like this will continue to be ignored.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Unfortunately, these kind of stories will be inevitable as long as there are cars on the roads and children act like children. Worldwide, traffic collisions are the leading cause of death among children aged 9 to 18 with 260,000 deaths per year.

In the US, every year, nearly the same number of people die in accidents involving automobiles as died in combat during the entire Vietnam War.

Attempts at "solutions" in the US failed because planners, backed by the auto industry, focused on car centric solutions that ultimately involved ceding streets to cars.

Pedestrians were "protected" by getting them off the streets. Highways and wider roads were built to make the going easier for automobiles while pedestrians were corralled (by law and for their own safety) onto sidewalks and crosswalks. These types of "solutions" only lead to more and faster moving cars on the road -and the number of fatal collisions keeps going up.

The only real solution is less cars on the road - or, at least, cities that put the safety of non-drivers before the convenience of drivers and profits of the car industry.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The roads in this country are awful. I ave noticed at least the new ones that are being built have sufficient lane space as well as sidewalks but I would say as many as 90% of the residential streets don't even have enough room for 2 cars to pass each other in opposite directions to say nothing of sidewalks. Kids are forced to basically walk in the road to and from school. To make matters worse often in the morning time drivers are preoccupied with other things than driving. I have seen people shaving, watching TV brushing their teeth and applying makeup while driving. All these things add up to terrible accidents that really could be prevented.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I drove down the the R296 last week, a national 'highway' that traverses through Sakura. It's a narrow road shared by both large trucks and smaller vehicles with little or no curbside relief between roads and buildings along a great portion of the route. My understanding is that this road was originally built for pilgrims who made their way from Shinjuku to Narita-San temple on foot and some modern age bureaucrat thought it was a good idea to pave it and let industrial traffic pass through. I saw schoolchildren perilously walking on the sides with trucks zooming by along the Usui-Old Sakura segment. It's now virtually unsafe for pedestrians to follow what used to be the original pilgrim trail.

I know that many newer suburbs in Chiba towns like Urayasu, Usui, Yukarigaoka and Narita have good pavement for peds but much older towns of this prefecture are not pedestrian friendly at all. I never imagined saying this but, it feels safer to walk down the narrow streets of Tokyo than to do so on similar roads in Chiba.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites