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90-year-old ex-elite bureaucrat gets 5-year jail term over fatal Tokyo car crash

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Indict the whole traffic control coppers that allowed him to renew his license.

26 ( +45 / -19 )

Very fair result but will it be a suspended sentence as usual???

19 ( +27 / -8 )

Is there a system in Japan to annually assess those over a certain age?

14 ( +20 / -6 )

The elderly will be the first people that self-driving cars will be mandatory.

15 ( +21 / -6 )

Elderly people behind the wheel is an issue all over the world.

19 ( +28 / -9 )

Hmm, and no investigation to the Police that decided not to arrest someone who’s smashed 11 people, killing two?

Even after running a red light?

In Japan you will get arrested for vehicular manslaughter that is in your fault. So the fact that he ran a red light and hit that many people and not get arrested is obvious corruption.

That should be investigated further.

38 ( +43 / -5 )

And shouldn’t he be handing the family over all his money as compensation for killing a mother and a preschooler.

42 ( +44 / -2 )

Very fair result but will it be a suspended sentence as usual???

If had been a suspended sentence it would have been reported here.

And FYI not all sentences handed down to people like him or elected officials get suspended sentences.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

A fair judgement. Japan, a society that functions well.

-32 ( +6 / -38 )

The old man got off cheap, that's for sure.

34 ( +40 / -6 )

Good. Hope he dies in jail. I suspect some trickery will be employed though to ensure he doesn't spend a day behind bars.

31 ( +38 / -7 )

This man will pass away in Prison. Mentally/Physically he won't be able to handle it, and will wither away fast!

20 ( +21 / -1 )

Very sad that this ex top level bureaucrats instinct was to lie about the incident, and then try and back up that lie in court. Shoulda just came clean and said I was too old to be behind the wheel and will love with the deaths of the victims for what’s remaining of my long life.

Someone facilitated it and had to sit through the trial as punishment.

Not a good look ole fella. Sad on all levels.

23 ( +25 / -2 )

Live with the deaths… sumimasen.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Kyakusenbi_Arimasu

I don’t think that I could bear to be in the same room as someone who has killed my whole family by speeding (probably) and has not admitted responsibility.

But he should be forced to pay massive compensation. He already may be made to do so, so I may not be correct in saying this.

16 ( +18 / -2 )

Good. Hope he dies in jail. I suspect some trickery will be employed though to ensure he doesn't spend a day behind bars.

Wouldn't be surprising in the least, unfortunately.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

I'm continuously mystified how Japan bends over backwards for the elderly. The perpetrator here is 90, which means he was 88 years old when the accident occurred. Can anyone explain why someone that geriatric is allowed to drive and put other people's lives at risk? Even if he were to have perfect vision and the mental acuity of a man half his age, it is physically impossible to have comparable reflexes. He killed two people and injured nine others, none of which could have happened if he wasn't driving in the first place.

I'm well aware that motorists of all ages can and do cause accidents. But the key should be minimizing the risk whenever possible. I don't even think the issue here is his political background, I'd say it's the insulation of seniority: Japan is unwilling to hold the elderly accountable for anything, while at the same time giving them special privileges and status. These are the same people who amassed a fortune during the bubble economy and have a stockpile of money, yet abuse the medical system on a daily basis and put the most strain on it while simultaneously having the lowest co-pay ratio among the entire population.

If I were a Japanese person under the age of 40, I'd be downright outraged how this country functions in terms of age and privilege.

19 ( +23 / -4 )

My heart truly aches for Mr Matsunaga. The strength he has shown since the incident is incredible.

I think I read somewhere at the time of the incident that Iizuka didn't even need to be driving that day as at his age and as part of his retirement benefits he had access to a government driver within Tokyo and surrounding environs.

I also didn't like the way Iizuka was treated with kid gloves and what appeared to be respectfully (people bowing, guiding him etc ) by the authorities and police when they bought him back to the incident scene last year to go through what had happened.

RIP Mana and little Riko and my continued deepest sympathy to Mr Matsunaga.

23 ( +24 / -1 )

Prosecutors had sought a seven-year prison term for Iizuka, saying that no problems with the car were found in an inspection conducted after the accident, and that there was no evidence of him applying the brakes during the incident.

The prosecutors need to prove no problem with the car system *before*** **the accident as well. And that's actually very difficult to prove even by forensic experts.

Although I personally believe that he's guilty with the sentence being fair and reasonable, the defendant is likely to appeal to the high court where I assume the mechanical issue above will surface.

Meanwhile Iizuka did drive against doctor's warning, which is another critical fact which led to today's verdict.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

It’s a district court decision. The old man can appeal the decision and he’ll probably be dead before he reaches the Supreme Court

10 ( +11 / -1 )

I'm continuously mystified how Japan bends over backwards for the elderly.Japan is unwilling to hold the elderly accountable for anything, while at the same time giving them special privileges and status.

Well said, problem is that those in charge of making such decisions ie senior bureaucrats and politicians are precisely those same geriatrics you are talking about.

These are the same people who amassed a fortune during the bubble economy and have a stockpile of money, yet abuse the medical system on a daily basis and put the most strain on it while simultaneously having the lowest co-pay ratio among the entire population.

Not all of them, but a large portion, yes, agreed.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Hitting the accelerator instead of the brake causing a fatal accident is horrible, lying about that makes it beyond redemption.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

5yrs for killing 2 people & injuring others......unbelievable, I suppose I should be thankful it wasnt suspended!

I hope he has a REALLY rough in there & they carry him out one day with the trash!

3 ( +7 / -4 )

It’s an accident. It’s the state who should be responsible for allowing people with cognitive disabilities due to age be allowed to drive.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

It took this long just to achieve a sentence.

The powers that be were hoping he would pass away so they would(t have to sentence him.

I remember a bus driver in Kyoto who committed the same crime at around the same time and in his case he has already served 2 and a half years inside.

The 'elite( has somehow managed to survive to his 90s in spite of using crutches and walking sticks to masquerade his awful wrong doing at previous court appearances.

Good riddance.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

In his mind he isn't lying. Of course he stepped on the go pedal but a man of his standing doesn't make stupid mistakes. However he did and now will probably spend the rest of his life behind bars. No winners in this story. He made a driving error, I once did the same in costco car park wearing very slippery when wet running shoes. I found the brake in time. He killed two people.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

As a follow-up to my earlier comment, I again reiterate the problem here is less that the person was an elite politician and more that he was allowed to have a license past the age of 70. Would the crime itself be any less repugnant and tragic if the perpetrator was some random nobody, the sentence 14 years, and a cash payout to all the victims was ordered?

Perhaps I just have a personal ax to grind with the elderly in Japan, because they seem to be the only segment of the population that can disregard civilized society and get away with it. If a kid is misbehaving they are berated or disciplined. If a worker is being insubordinate, they are checked. But for the elderly it seems like rules don't apply. How many times have I witnessed an old man abusing customer service workers? Some have said things so offensive and so vicious that the staff have literally broken down crying in front of them.

Then there is the medical situation. People with legitimate health issues who need to see doctors are forced to wait, sometimes for hours, because a collective of elderly patients swarm hospitals and clinics out of sheer boredom and a lack of respect for the lives of productive members of society who might have a genuine need for medical attention.

And I'm not talking about legitimately sick people, I'm talking about those you see going to the hospital every day to ask for dozens of government (tax payer) subsidized shippu or who have a slight pain in the same finger joint that the doctor looked at the day before and which said individual already has medicine to treat. And if you think I'm lying, try making friends with a GP at a university hospital and ask them about their daily outpatient experience.

I just feel like it's time for the under 50 crowd to take over and stop letting the over 70 run the show.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

letsberealisticToday  05:00 pm JST

Is there a system in Japan to annually assess those over a certain age?

Yes. Right now in Japan, over-75s must take a cognitive test every three years before they can successfully get their licence renewed. Other requirements are pending, such as a test driving course, with points subtracted for errors, and a minimum pass rate; or requiring a car equipped with advanced automatic braking system.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

wanderlust

Is there a system in Japan to annually assess those over a certain age?

Yes. Right now in Japan, over-75s must take a cognitive test every three years 

For over 75, it should be yearly. The law should be realistic about biology. Once I am 75, I will be happy to comply with that. I stop driving motor vehicles on my own.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

or requiring a car equipped with advanced automatic braking system.

Am I the only one who thinks that automatic cars are more dangerous? You never hear about this "mistaking accelerator for brake" problem in manual cars. Because of course, in a panic situation everybody would push down with both feet, and in a car with a clutch that disengages the engine. Sure, manual cars are convenient, but at the cost of regular lethal accidents of this type?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Is there a system in Japan to annually assess those over a certain age?

Yes, but it is farcical:

Amakudari policeman at test center : Tanaka-san, I am holding up three fingers. How many fingers?

Tanaka-san : Three?

Amakudari policeman at test center : Yes! Okay, here's your new licence.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

A guilty plea and genuine apology would allow some form of closure to those who lost their loved ones that day, but this man denied them.

This piece of work pleaded not guilty, he can die in jail and I won't lose a minutes sleep.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Very fair result but will it be a suspended sentence as usual???

Actually it can’t be, they can only give suspended sentences when the sentence is under 3 years.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The Karma involved in that not guilty plea is on a whole new level.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Takuya Matsunaga is a broken man, his wife Mana and 3year old daughter Riko victims of the 90-year-old Kozo Iizuka.

What is indefensible and frankly shameful is Kozo Iizuka attempts slivering his way out of owning up to his responsibility for the carnage he inflicted.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I don't think that the bribery money of his glory days can pay him out of this one unless you are an Aso.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Yukijin

A guilty plea and genuine apology would allow some form of closure to those who lost their loved ones that day, but this man denied them.

This piece of work pleaded not guilty, he can die in jail and I won't lose a minutes sleep.

Same feeling here.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

A clear indication of the arrogance of government top brass and their disdain for the masses.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

At least he will die in jail, couldn't even admit it was his own fault

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The new traffic safety law requires people over 70 to attend (and pay for) a safety class and driving assessment at a driving school before they can renew their license. Let's hope it makes a difference. Many people over 70 are very capable drivers. But driving skills will certainly fade as with age. Assessing a person's actual capabilities every 3 years is better than just establishing an age limit.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

""Iizuka had pleaded not guilty, maintaining that a mechanical issue with the car""

In order to become a top politician you must be very good at talking or negotiating, well he tried but failed because of one simple fact, "HE LIED"

3 ( +4 / -1 )

A fair judgement. Japan, a society that functions well.

Only because the father/husband of the victims was persistent in getting justice. He made sure people didn't forget.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Justice served but a little short, 7 to 10 years is much more appropriate, RIP little one and her mother.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Rot in jail

3 ( +4 / -1 )

5 years for 90yo man is basically life sentence. I don’t see the reason in doing that. The guy has no danger to society if it’s ensured he can’t drive.

-14 ( +0 / -14 )

Not long enough.

He should be getting 25 mandatory years at least.

Hard labor.

Doesn’t matter what his age is. If she was a factor, he should’ve never been driving in the first place.

His attitude and negligence are reason enough.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

That picture of the mother and daughter he killed should be placed in his prison cell for him to look at everyday.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

He has lived a long life at 90 years old. Doesn't he feel remorse for the fact that his actions has snatched the lives of a 31 year old and a 3 year old who still had their whole lives ahead of them?!

7 ( +8 / -1 )

At last justice is served.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Takuya Matsunaga along with his family will suffer for the test of their lives.

Every wakening hour, the loss of the joy, as a father and husband, for his wife and child, only to endure the nightmares that will follow.

However, here's the pinch, even if Kozo Iizuka succumbs to his aging years incarcerated, will that be recompense, will the fact Kozo Iizuka dies locked up bring indemnify for Takuya Matsunaga loss.

Maybe the issue here is that Kozo Iizuka refusal to genuinely accept guilt and culpability.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Just because a hard headed man like him made an accident and was not fit to drive a car it doesn’t mean that all old people in the world can’t drive a car anymore,I drive in Japan for 50 years but compared to my younger days I drive much better today and have my reflections fine .

When I get in to the car I am aware that a car is like a weapon so I am Alert always ,

And I never put my feet on the accelerator first ,I always put on the break so when I move I quickly change !

i would never drive like this unfit man !

Many young people make accidents too,

I agree that many old people needs to have there legs fit and be healthy,

It really depends of how good a driver you are and careful despite your age !

I really feel sorry for the mother and the child that passed away,and I am glad he got years in prison for his ignorance of not realizing that he was a danger to the society!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Very fair result but will it be a suspended sentence as usual???

I think only sentences of up to three years can be suspended.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

finally some justice

1 ( +2 / -1 )

A bureaucrat denying responsibility… what a surprise.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

a former chief of the now-defunct Agency of Industrial Science and Technology

Yes, obviously it’s of course good, the traffic killer is sentenced and in jail, but on the other side , how do you get the lost expertise, science and technology now ever back, out of the jail and newly-refunct? It’s kind of a Pyrrhic victory, you’ll see one day what I mean, or better let’s say you never see it again, leadership in science and technology, as it was when that guy was younger, still not a sentenced traffic killer and not jailed.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@Sven Asai

a former chief of the now-defunct Agency of Industrial Science and Technology

Yes, obviously it’s of course good, the traffic killer is sentenced and in jail, but on the other side , how do you get the lost expertise, science and technology now ever back, out of the jail and newly-refunct? It’s kind of a Pyrrhic victory, you’ll see one day what I mean, or better let’s say you never see it again, leadership in science and technology, as it was when that guy was younger, still not a sentenced traffic killer and not jailed.

Err, the guy is 90 years old. He did leave the agency back in 1991, joined Kubota Corporation which he left in 2000. From then onwards he only collects titles of "Association Heads" for various organizations and mostly lectures about the "history" of his field of expertise.

https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E9%A3%AF%E5%A1%9A%E5%B9%B8%E4%B8%89

As far as how much science has advanced and history can get old pretty quick: back in 1991 I was using Windows 3.0 and back in 2000, well, Windows 2000. That's how much technology changes over 3 decades...

On a side-note, if the head of a science agency really believes that flooring the brakes will increase speed I would take everything he says with a one ton block of salt...

On the leadership in science and technology-bit, I would tend to agree. If only we had less arrogant oyajis way over their dates of expiration stuffing meeting-rooms lecturing us about the "good ol' times", maybe we could actually find time to nurture the next generation of leaders to show us the way and take us to higher grounds. If only...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This lasted too long.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

In 2003 an 86 year old man drove his car into a farmers market held in Santa Monica California killing 10 people and injuring 70. In his confusion he continued to hit the gas thinking it was a brake. He was eventually found guilty of all counts but sentenced to probation because of his poor health. The state tried to enact new laws that required testing after a certain age but a strong senior lobby group successfully blocked it.

At least these incidents are rare, however with an aging population in Japan I don't think this is the last story we are going to hear.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The people really responsible are the ones who allowed him to have a driver's license at that age.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Very light sentence with killing two people and injuring many. lower sentences for the elite.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

On a side-note, if the head of a science agency really believes that flooring the brakes will increase speed I would take everything he says with a one ton block of salt...

It is of course a ridiculous excuse. And it is so easy to see how these regular "accel instead of brake" accidents happen in automatic cars with elderly drivers, I find it mind-boggling that this issue is not addressed, either with a technofix or by law.

It is problem inherent in the design of automatic transnmission.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Video of the father being kissed by his late daughter was gut wrenching. On top of that, he lost his wife too. Unimaginable loss and grief. No way people of extreme advanced age should be behind the wheel of a car. There needs to be a firm age cap on drivers licenses, and a system to annually prove competency prior to that.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I will be 80 on my next birthday and, although it is inconvenient at times, I gave up driving almost a year ago out of respect for those I would have shared the highways with. It has saved me the expense of petrol, insurance, and vehicle upkeep. Surprisingly it has saved me money on food too since I shop only about once a month now. No more impulsive trips to a convenience store for ice cream or beer. Good not only for my health but definitely good for those I might have run over.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I will be 80 on my next birthday and, although it is inconvenient at times, I gave up driving almost a year ago out of respect for those I would have shared the highways with.

Respect.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Sad story. I doubt he was sentenced for negligence. More likely it was for criminal negligence, which has a higher standard.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

3 years is too long a gap for retesting over 70. People can deteriorate mentally very quickly the older they get. Should be 1 year gaps max. It ain't rocket science.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

He shouldn't have been driving, but the reaction if some in the comments is as though he deliberately tried to kill them. It was ultimately an accident. It's a very tragic accident from someone clearly should not have been behind the wheel of a car, but someone who was unaware that they w were no longer capable.

The sentence is appropriate.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This was road rage not an accident.

I had always wished that the cops would have traced Iizuka's route from when he left his home to when he ran the red light and killed Mrs. Matsunaga and Riko-chan.

There are many RR crossings in the Nishi Ikebukuro area. If Iizuka had gotten stopped at a RR crossing or two, it should not have been that difficult for the cops to retrace his steps and check the train schedules. Having been stopped at RR crossings he was not about to stop at a red light, and ran the light on purpose.

He got off easy.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Criminally lenient sentence. But what do we expect from japan. Hopefully, he will die alone and in fear in prison.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Above all RIP to Ms Matsunaga and her angel.

Only 5 years? At least, in Japanese jail whoever you are, you don't have advantages in your room, for food and so on....

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Rot in jail !!..

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Accidents can happen to anyone of any age.

This harsh sentence is totally unnecessary and cruel, it will do nothing to bring back the victims, and incarcerating a 90 year old places too much of a burden on the penal system.

Rather than imprison him, seize his assets and award restitution to the family of the victims, and let him live out his years in a low budget care facility.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

"I hope you will acknowledge your responsibility and negligence, and sincerely apologize to the bereaved family,"

The judge asked Iizuka to do the right think and I am sure he still refused as he continues to believe he is not at fault for killing the victims. Sad but not surprising. So many needless deaths caused by letting incapacitated seniors drive in this country. And since Japan continues to age this will only get worse. Nothing impactful will change as old people vote for the LDP.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@zurcronium

So many needless deaths caused by letting incapacitated seniors drive in this country. And since Japan continues to age this will only get worse. Nothing impactful will change as old people vote for the LDP.

While the Iizuka-accident is pretty black and white, even more because of Iizuka's arrogance in denying obvious facts, the general situation in Japan is pretty much a can of worms:

.Japan is a super-aging society

.on the countryside you need a car, even more as:

..local communities are short on cash for infrastructures and services (e.g. bus services, trains)

..local communities are bleeding younger citizens hence do not look interesting as a market to service companies (e.g. supermarkets, hospitals, clinics, taxis, etc), this again impacts the whole community as: no clients = no business = no tax-income which circles back to: no incentive to go and live there / remain there

..elderly people are short on cash (i.e. lousy pensions)

Therefore, if any or (better) all of the above was solved, elderly would have options to move around but they don't, hence: they are dependent on moving around in a car, this until they either can not move around anymore or have an accident.

Back in 2004 I lived in Koga-shi, Ibaragi-ken. It's 90 minutes from Tokyo, on a main train-line. Well, bus service was minimal, and neither supermarkets or doctors were in walking distance or deserved by bus-lanes. Wifey and I needed to move by car. Literally zero choice. And still, Koga-shi had some cash, some brand-name value and (back then) still people moving in to get closer to Tokyo from (I guess) "deeper" Ibaragi. TBH, I don't want to know how the places these people left behind looked like...

Driverless cars look like an option, but the vast majority of pensioners won't be able to afford one (unless paid by tax-payer's money), so back to square one...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Attending his trial in a wheelchair, Iizuka told the court he may have Parkinson's disease, but he is expected to be imprisoned like other defendants if the ruling is finalized.

May have? Is that his own assumption? Or did he read about it on the Internet? Or did Cinderella whisper it to him? Does he have a doctor's note? Because it contradicts the fact that he's physically and mentally healthy. And it would also support the official investigation's version that there was no defect in the car.

For a driver over 75 there should be a re-test every 6 months and associated physical tests, eyesight tests and most importantly tests to see if he is mentally fit to drive.

Damn his way of excusing makes me angry. He better swallow that and admit to himself that he killed a mother and child. Even to his own family. But he doesn't seem to have a shred of judgment or morals and blames it on faulty car.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

was guilty of mistakenly pressing down on the gas pedal instead of the brake for around 10 seconds during the incident,

10 seconds is a HECK of a long time to be pressing down on the accelerator instead of the brake!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Nobody that age should be permitted to drive. People should have to take an operator's exam, including driving, annually after age 70 to keep a license. The reason this is not done is the influence of the car manufacturers, and the fact that 70% of the votes cast in Japanese elections are cast by those over 70 years of age.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Like the bus at the Olympics you mean, the one that hit the athlete.

The elderly will be the first people that self-driving cars will be mandatory.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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