Police, local residents mark 2nd anniversary of traffic accident that left 2 children dead

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Police and local residents on Friday morning placed flowers at the scene of a traffic accident that left two children dead and 14 others injured two years ago, in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture.

Senior police officers held a small memorial ceremony at a makeshift altar at 10 a.m., the time the accident occurred, Sankei Shimbun reported. Because of the coronavirus, no major service was held, but locals placed bouquets and offered prayers at the site.

In February last year, Fumiko Shintate, 53, was convicted and sentenced to 4 1/2 years for negligent driving resulting in death and injury after she turned at an intersection on May 8, 2019, and collided with a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction. The car hit by Shintate's careened into a group of preschoolers, leaving two dead and injuring 14 others, including three nursery school teachers.

While her lawyer sought leniency, the Otsu District Court said her failure to pay attention to oncoming traffic should be considered seriously negligent.

The judge also said her pledge to never again drive a car was not sufficient reason to reduce the sentence.

Before she was sentenced, Shintate told the court, "The outcome might have been different had the speed of the other vehicle been slower or if there was a fence at the site of the accident, but I think I'm the one to blame," while the prosecutors said she has not sufficiently repented.

Her lawyer argued that the other vehicle's driver, who was not charged over the incident, was partially at fault.

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My deepest condolences to the family.

However, if you have lived in Japan long enough (a couple of days would be sufficient) you know that turning right well after the light has turned RED is a common practice. Day after day, I am witness to this blatant disregard for life. But we, the driving public, are not fully to blame. Blame also lies on the government and the police for their complacency and lack of enforcement of laws that are designed to protect.

The majority of these accidents are would be avoidable if the powers that be get off their asses and do their jobs.


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