crime

Road rage driver threatens commuter with a sickle as incidents increase across Japan

27 Comments
By Luke Mahoney, grape Japan

Although noxiously confusing, Japan’s roads are mostly safe. A license point systems ensures careful driving, and the number of accidents and traffic fatalities is experiencing a downwards trend.

Yet, road rage incidents are paradoxically increasing in a society that espouses the virtues of harmony and order. Eye-popping headlines have forced the issue front and center. As such, authorities are cracking down on aggressive driving as concern surrounding safe streets continues to spread.

Driver Threatens Another with A sickle

In late June, a Fukuoka senior was arrested for allegedly threatening another driver with a sickle. While the case is ongoing, the 70-year-old Fukuoka native is suspected of confronting a 23-year-old nurse at a red light. With sickle in hand, he allegedly opened the nurse's door while she was stopped asking, "Why did you cut me off?"

Police responded quickly and found the suspect, who is disputing the allegation, nearby. According to police, the senior is saying he "didn't brandish the sickle." However, the claim contradicts witness accounts that he became upset with the nurse after she cut in front of him. He is suspected to have repeatedly flashed his lights and cut in front of her. While both were stopped, he took out the sickle from his car.

Either way, the timing of the incident is particularly precarious for the senior motorist. The event may violate the newly amended Road Traffic Act. The amendments, which came into effect on June 30th, impose more significant penalties for acts of aggressive driving and road rage.

Extreme Road Rage Incidences

The Fukuoka senior is not alone. In recent years, several outlandish road rage acts have made headlines as authorities seek greater leverage in punishing the crime.

On June 8, 2019, a truck struck an SUV driven by a 43-year-old company executive. Police initially charged the truck driver with negligent driving over the incident.

However, as they looked more deeply, police began to suspect the SUV driver over his history of road-rage arrests. After analyzing the truck driver's dashboard footage, they concluded that the SUV driver had harassed the truck driver for several kilometers. Police reassessed the incident and charged the SUV driver with dangerous driving and obstruction of business.

In another incident, an upset driver threatened another, aggressively tailgating the victim and firing an airgun at his car. The suspect, who apparently stole the vehicle he was driving, also blasted his horn and drove dangerously close to the victim. Upon running out of gas, the suspect abandoned his car along the side of the interstate.

A 2018 incident was even more tragic. A judge found a 26-year-old defendant guilty of dangerous driving causing death or injury after a mother and father were killed while stopped along a freeway. The younger truck driver struck the family van after attempting to stop them via dangerous maneuvers. A passing truck struck the mother and father outside the van and injured their two children who waited in the stopped vehicle.

The presiding judge said, “The defendant’s action was dangerous and its consequence grave. The sorrow of victims who suddenly lost their lives on their way home from a family trip and that of the bereaved family is deep. It’s understandable that the [surviving family] called for harsh punishment.” The defendant was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Police Crack Down

In reaction to recent headline events, the National Police Agency (NPA) is seeking to crack down on aggressive driving such as tailgating. The NPA has recently expanded the Road Traffic Act by banning obstructive driving. Prior legislation had not accounted for malicious behavior on the road; however, recent changes aim to fix this loophole. The changes apply punishments, such as revoking licenses to drivers behaving dangerously, even in the absence of an accident. In extreme cases, prison terms are recommended.

Prior to the amendments, a driver's license could be revoked for drunk driving or driving with a suspended license. However, currently, officers can immediately revoke a license for a year or more for road rage offenses. Jail time and fines of up to 500,000 yen may also apply. Even relatively minor obstructions such as aggressive tailgating can face minimal jail time and fines.

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27 Comments
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rage incidents are paradoxically increasing

Could it simply be that these incidents are being captured on phones these days?

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Think dash cams have a lot to do with the rise in incidents. Police can't say Shogani when there is video evidence, (although they do). A sickle? Who uses a sickle? There are way too many angry people driving, now angry people with a sickle. I just pull over let them go on their way. If they stop luckily I'm intimidating and twice they saw me they jumped back in their car and gone. A sickle? do they think they are the grim reaper? Idiots.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Get the Ojisans off the roads.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

Sickle users tend to be farmers. Farmers tend to be older.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

If the police ever did their jobs...

7 ( +10 / -3 )

He is suspected to have repeatedly flashed his lights and cut in front of her. While both were stopped, he took out the sickle from his car.

Given his age and the blatant disregard for the new law, I'd like to see how Japan plays this first case since the new law!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Given his age and the blatant disregard for the new law, I'd like to see how Japan plays this first case since the new law!

More likely he was nit aware of the new law. Or is there evidence to the contrary?

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

You would have to ask? Did he come about the hedge? Or does his black hood give him away.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Police can't say Shogani when there is video evidence,

It's spelled shoganai. Please make an effort to use the right terminology when making your point.

-21 ( +2 / -23 )

Stricter enforcement and harsher penalties are what is needed,. Get those cops out patrolling.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

There's a reason Dante listed pride as the greatest sin of all - all the other sins stem from pride, especially rage. "He cut me off, how DARE HE CUT ME OFF!" Humanity could sure use a healthy dose of humility right now.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Sickle boy is pretty young for a farmer. Would he have behaved like that to a man?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Although noxiously confusing, Japan’s roads are mostly safe. A license point systems ensures careful driving.

We have a very different definition of "safe".

Either way, the timing of the incident is particularly precarious for the senior motorist. The event may violate the newly amended Road Traffic Act. The amendments, which came into effect on June 30th, impose more significant penalties for acts of aggressive driving and road rage.

Well that's too bad for him.

In another incident, an upset driver threatened another, aggressively tailgating the victim and firing an airgun at his car. The suspect, who apparently stole the vehicle he was driving, also blasted his horn and drove dangerously close to the victim. Upon running out of gas, the suspect abandoned his car along the side of the interstate.

Hope they caught him.

A 2018 incident was even more tragic. A judge found a 26-year-old defendant guilty of dangerous driving causing death or injury after a mother and father were killed while stopped along a freeway. The younger truck driver struck the family van after attempting to stop them via dangerous maneuvers. A passing truck struck the mother and father outside the van and injured their two children who waited in the stopped vehicle.

Although the culprit is obviously the 26 year old, if the lorry driver couldn't stop in time, they were either driving too fast or too close to brake or swerve out of the way. They should not be driving in either case.

Police Crack Down

In reaction to recent headline events, the National Police Agency (NPA) is seeking to crack down on aggressive driving such as tailgating. The NPA has recently expanded the Road Traffic Act by banning obstructive driving. Prior legislation had not accounted for malicious behavior on the road; however, recent changes aim to fix this loophole. The changes apply punishments, such as revoking licenses to drivers behaving dangerously, even in the absence of an accident. In extreme cases, prison terms are recommended.

Prior to the amendments, a driver's license could be revoked for drunk driving or driving with a suspended license. However, currently, officers can immediately revoke a license for a year or more for road rage offenses. Jail time and fines of up to 500,000 yen may also apply. Even relatively minor obstructions such as aggressive tailgating can face minimal jail time and fines.

It's about time.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Get the Ojisans off the roads.

As soon as I can afford to retire, I am going to quit driving. I hate driving to begin with. I don't want to have to do it any more than I have to. I will keep my license, but only for in the case of emergencies. I love walking.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Well now - how did I guess this was a member of our venerable retired community throwing his entitled weight about?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Road rage is much more common than people would like to admit. Hopefully, the cops will step up their patrols and get these menaces off the road.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It'll be a hand sickle, a small curved blade for little bits of weeding in between plants, not a big long thing like on the Soviet flag. It's still a weapon though, like a knife. Sounds like grandpa has got himself into lots of trouble. I hope he enjoys his new car-free existence.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

These “incidents” on TV only capture one side. Did the nurse really cut him off dangerously and got away with it? We don’t know.

if someone is driving too close behind you on the packed highway, what can you do? Flash braking lights, slow down a bit have no effect on these tailgating idiots.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Today I had to come to town. 7 cars were stuck behind a k-car. 38km in a 50km small road. All cars I know from experience are commuters from inaka to the city. We were all late for work. 7 people in this virus stress period, angry to the bone. I can understand some peoples anger.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

If you live in Fukuoka, you can’t help BUT to get road rage is almost a normal thing. In all of Japan this city by far has the worst and most rude drivers anywhere. It’s terrible.

Had more of my share of shouting matches to people

0 ( +1 / -1 )

These incidents are about as new as the pyramids of Egypt, they are just now FINALLY getting more recognitions thanks to dash board cams and an increasing willingness for victims to come forward. And I guarantee the new law will be toothless at least at first becomes when it comes to road laws, the powers that be are always worried they will "not be popular" come voting time. The old guy with the sickle? He should get charged with attempted murder and locked up for his remaining days, given the danger he created for others as well, but I guarantee he'll just pay the victim some money and MAYBE lose his license for a year. In fact, didn't one road rage incident that saw two children killed just see the driver of the vehicle that caused it get off Scott free and all charges dropped? The police won't do a thing until there are dead bodies, plain and simple, and even then they'll do the bare minimum possible.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I still say police have no power to stop and give speeding tickets. I see people zoom by like their cars are on a race track right in front of both patrolling cars and a major police station. It doesn't take a rocket science degree or physicist to tell or see a person is going way over the posted speed limit sign. Just yesterday at a pedestrian crosswalk not one single vehicle stopped to let the person cross, not even a patrolling police car, there was no signal cross just a line and pedestrian crosswalk. I literally had to step onto the pedestrian crosswalk halt the oncoming vehicle and point to the painted single line that means to any driver in Japan STOP when a pedestrian is in the crosswalk. He looks at me puzzled and then remembers and says "OH sorry" . I respond don't tell me I'm sorry, just follow the Road Rules, STOP when people are in the crosswalk. But hey what can you say when a police patrol doesn't stop either.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's spelled shoganai.

A pedant might pull you up on that one.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The standard of driving is reflecting some potential ew change in the people here-they are beginning to show a distinct lack of compassion for others....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Mickelicious

Sickle boy is pretty young for a farmer.

*"While the case is ongoing, the 70-year-old Fukuoka native is suspected of confronting a 23-year-old nurse at a red light. With sickle in hand..."*

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thanks, @garypen,

Touché, yet the remark - though flippant - wasn't totally unfounded. There's a lot of living fossils out there in their little white trucks, bless 'em:

63.5% were aged 65 or older (2015)

https://www.nippon.com/en/features/h00227/

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Although the culprit is obviously the 26 year old, if the lorry driver couldn't stop in time, they were either driving too fast or too close to brake or swerve out of the way. They should not be driving in either case."

It isn't clear from the article but the truck may have had a nice clear lane in front of them with more than adequate following distance when the initial mishap occurred in front of it. I drove gasoline tankers to pay for graduate school and there were two times in my experience where I had a clear lane in front of me, but speeding overtaking autos lost control and caused collisions I could not avoid. About all the driver of a big truck can do when confronted with such a situation is use as much brake as possible and brace for collision. In my two cases the police did not place any fault on my. Both times I was hit from the side and both cars destroyed. One actually bounced off the wheels of the truck, skidded across the freeway, impacted the center divider then spun back across the freeway to be struck by yet another car. In fact, had I not looked in the mirror as the car hit the truck I would not have even known I was hit. Trucks are so loud inside that I didn't hear the collision and the truck is so heavy I didn't feel anything. It was dark too. i just happened to glance in the mirror and notice something unusual, so I pulled over to inspect the truck. It was only then I noticed collision damage and all the traffic stopped behind me. Only later did I find out how many cars wrecked and how my truck was hit. In the first occasion where I was hit, a car spun out entering the freeway. I tried to move out of the way but it wasn't enough. I told the officer I wasn't going to roll the truck over to avoid an idiot and the officer agreed. He arrested the other driver and wished me a nice day. Neither collision ever showed up on my driving record.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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