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U.S. naval officer in Japan faces prison over deadly crash

154 Comments
By ERIC TUCKER

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Unfortunately the laws in Japan are a bit draconian. When a foreigner decides to drive in this country, he is automatically siding with the autonomous laws of Japan. If anyone decides to live here they must abide to the laws and customs of this country. In this case if it were the latter, I'm certain the family would be asking for a very tough sentence. Three years is a slap on the wrist considering he killed two bystanders.

1 ( +36 / -35 )

In the US holding a suspect for 26 days in solitary confinement and interrogating said suspect over that time while denying access to an attorney and medical care would be grounds for immediate dismissal of any charges filed. I addition what qualifies a judge to decide that any mountain sickness should have subsided as the suspect drove to a lower elevation? Another Gaijin getting Ghosned by a corrupt Japanese legal system.

7 ( +57 / -50 )

In the US holding a suspect for 26 days in solitary confinement and interrogating said suspect over that time while denying access to an attorney and medical care would be grounds for immediate dismissal of any charges filed.

He would have access to a lawyer and medical care if needed in Japan too. Solitary confinement would be unlikely.

Another gaijin facing Japanese law in Japan.

-27 ( +22 / -49 )

I'm just going to email a link to this article to everyone who called me paranoid when explaining why I will never drive vehicles in Japan. And to this day I stand to my decision.

-4 ( +27 / -31 )

Their country, their rules. Accept it and enjoy Japan, carefully!

-10 ( +38 / -48 )

Marr bourdein

It isn't that, it's the way they apply the laws here, especially to foreigners, that is the problem. The old guy who killed a mother and daughter in ikebukuro a few years ago in his car definitely did not do 26 days solitary confinement with no access to medical help etc...

One law for the Japanese, another for everyone else

8 ( +43 / -35 )

Two things stand out against him. 2 people died. Usually mountain sickness subsides as you descend. Two things stand out for him. He was in solitary confinement for 26 days (unbelievable) and he remains on active duty. I ask myself, if he wasn't American, if he wasn't in the military, would we be discussing this

18 ( +32 / -14 )

Only a fool would expect Justice from a Japanese court

-6 ( +38 / -44 )

Japan is a sovereign country with own laws. If you don't like the system don't live here, it is simple.

There are other countries which are worse.

-1 ( +38 / -39 )

The whole case looks like the prosecution really want to have him appear as guilty no matter what actually happened just to make him an example, and the Judge dismissing the testimony of a professional that says sudden mountain sickness is a real possibility doesn't make the trial look any better.

For people that occasionally go mountain climbing in groups the reason given for the accident should not be any surprise., people suddenly feeling sick or fainting in the train back home after an exclusion is not even that rare.

8 ( +33 / -25 )

The Judge seems to think he is an expert in medicine. He sits in court and determines over the physicians' what happened to Alkonis even though the Judge wasn't even at the scene. Here are my feelings: I would NEVER go to Japan to visit because I might end up in jail for a trumped up charge or worse. And NO WAY would I live there. I will tell all of my family and friends to STAY AWAY from Japan. To take your travel money elsewhere.

-26 ( +13 / -39 )

I've had mountain sickness high up in the Himalayas and that's absolutely not how it works. It subsides as soon as you come down. The reason the judge threw the book at him is because he won't admit that he fell asleep.

12 ( +31 / -19 )

“what qualifies a judge to decide that any mountain sickness should have subsided as the suspect drove to a lower elevation? “

The judge most likely listened to opinions of expert witnesses before sentencing the suspect to three years in prison.

4 ( +19 / -15 )

It sounds like the family have tried to do the right thing in horrible circumstances.

Not merely as a driver of many years here, I hope the Japanese court shows some extra compassion.

12 ( +18 / -6 )

“The word that comes to our mind is fairness. We want him to be treated fairly for an accident,” said Alkonis’ father, Derek Alkonis, of Dana Point, California. “We don’t feel like it’s been that way. We know it hasn’t been that way. And it concerns us that our son has been given a three-year prison sentence for an accident.”

good luck with that. the Justice system here is anything but that

-12 ( +19 / -31 )

The whole case looks like the prosecution really want to have him appear as guilty no matter what actually happened just to make him an example, and the Judge dismissing the testimony of a professional that says sudden mountain sickness is a real possibility doesn't make the trial look any better.

Exactly!

-15 ( +17 / -32 )

I have seen people collapse on mountains due to exertion and altitude-it’s not unusual

Can the judge adequately explain medical conditions where people lose consciousness and put their families and others at risk while driving on a mountain?

1 ( +14 / -13 )

If a foreigner (especially an American) in Japan is involved in an accident involving Japanese people, it is generally expected that much higher compensation should be paid. That is why he was held hostage. Japanese justice is racist, and a scam. Prosecutors who deal with foreigners are nasty, and judges are imbeciles.

-14 ( +21 / -35 )

In Japan, the biggest factor in sentencing in cases like these is retribution for the victims' families, not justice. I've read lots of negligence cases in the news in which the suspect makes an honest mistake - or even no mistake at all - and the severity of their punishment is determined by how much damage was done to the victims.

Be careful out there!

9 ( +18 / -9 )

“The word that comes to our mind is fairness. We want him to be treated fairly for an accident,”

3 years for the deaths of 2 people. That is more than "fair".

5 ( +19 / -14 )

After the crash near Fujinomiya, he was arrested by Japanese authorities and held for 26 days in solitary confinement at a police detention facility, interrogated multiple times a day and was not given a medical treatment or evaluation, according to a statement of facts provided by a family spokesman. That statement says that when American authorities arrived to take Alkonis into custody and return him to a U.S. base, he already was held by the Japanese.

Something is strange here, as there is nowhere in the article that states whether or not he was under SOFA status, and assuming he wasn't, then there was no requirement for the Japanese authorities to return him to US military control.

This "statement of facts" while believable, is not the whole story, and only one side.

0 ( +9 / -9 )

his parents are pleading for leniency for an act they say was nothing more than a terrible accident 

It might very well have been, but two people died. A lot of unintended things happen that we still have to pay some sort of price for. 3 years is not bad for taking the lives of two people.

9 ( +17 / -8 )

He was coherent, driving, and talking with his daughter then just collapsed? Was he vaccinated? Sorry, but I think it is a possibility that it could have been an adverse side effect of the vaccines. There has been many instances of people that unexpectedly collapsed from the vaccines. Lots of videos online.

-23 ( +8 / -31 )

Put simply, If this happened to a Japanese national the exact same thing would happen. This isn't a case of punishment because he is a foreigner or military. These are the Japanese laws and if you drive a car in Japan you must understand the responsibility and risk within those laws.

13 ( +22 / -9 )

It isn't that, it's the way they apply the laws here, especially to foreigners, that is the problem. The old guy who killed a mother and daughter in ikebukuro a few years ago in his car definitely did not do 26 days solitary confinement with no access to medical help etc...

Because the old guy is too old in confinement for days. He can not flee in the first place. But the soldier might flee to the US base. It seems especially to US soldiers, not to foreigners.

-3 ( +9 / -12 )

3 years is not bad for taking the lives of two people.

That’s right. Usually 3 buttons are pressed then and one of the three buttons takes your life.

-17 ( +0 / -17 )

I just another American getting screwed over in Japan anyone surprised. 3years and 1.6 million is hardly a slap on the wrist. he was just sleepy is bs. He didn’t even wake after the crash according to the article.

accidents happen tragic as it is prison time is ridiculous

-11 ( +10 / -21 )

I think the sentences should be stricter to reduce crimes and accidents.

Traffic fatalities: 

Japan: 2,636

U.S : 38,680

-7 ( +9 / -16 )

Put simply, If this happened to a Japanese national the exact same thing would happen. This isn't a case of punishment because he is a foreigner or military. These are the Japanese laws and if you drive a car in Japan you must understand the responsibility and risk within those laws.

I would suggest that a Japanese would possibly get a stiffer penalty and the reason it was as light as it was, was because of the 1.6 million settlement they made with the family. Without that I'd bet it would have been a hell of a lot longer.

3 ( +11 / -8 )

One gets the idea that the way the Japanese police and courts carried on up to and during WW2 is still generally considered to be okay.

-10 ( +7 / -17 )

3 years for the deaths of 2 people ...I would say that is lenient enough.

Whether he fainted or fell asleep at the wheel 2 people died because of his actions.

Accept the 3 years and thank your lucky stars it isn't 13 or 30 years.

8 ( +18 / -10 )

He is simply being used by Japan to placate the population showing that they do indeed prosecute and jail army personnel. If he is going to do the time there was no point to the family raising that kind of money to pay the relatives. They should simply remove that payment from the table and keep it for their son when he has done the time even if that is changed to the full 7 years which in effect means he has paid in full. I think that should be a lesson for any expat for the future. Don’t go paying anyone anything until you get a written guarantee the “criminal” aspect is going to disappear like it would if you were Japanese.

-12 ( +7 / -19 )

One gets the idea that the way the Japanese police and courts carried on up to and during WW2 is still generally considered to be okay.

Hostage taking by the kempetai during WW2 was quite common in Japan and especially occupied territories. A Japanese prosecutor who dealt with foreigners actually told me many years ago, that he was in charge of allied POW's during WW2.

-20 ( +3 / -23 )

Terrible accident that's all, I feel sorry for all involved. I am sure that if lives were not lost the judge would have sentenced Mr. Alkonis differently.

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

He decided to drive. He knew he was suffering from hypocy being a pilot he knows the effects. Could easy allow the wife to drive or ground himself has the procedure as a pilot. Very Very lucky not to be doing a Double life sentence plus he has the stupidity of fronting the media crying hard done by while still living in Japan. Take about placing a target on your back and his family’s back. Very bright person.

5 ( +14 / -9 )

He would have access to a lawyer and medical care if needed in Japan too. Solitary confinement would be unlikely.

> Another gaijin facing Japanese law in Japan.

I think you need to review your knowledge of Japanese law.

You are kept in solitary during the "investigation" faze, you may get a lawyer but not right away, the police and Prosecutors can "interrogate" you at all hours, your lawyer is not permitted to be present during interrogation. Etc...

You have been in Japan long enough to know the facts, this information was even subject of several articles here in JT, I can only take a guess as to why one you ignore these facts.

-1 ( +10 / -11 )

1.6 million is a compensation for victims families. His crime is still a justice matter. Money don't seem to solve everything at the same time. But money would help reduction of prison years.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

dan

Today 08:48 am JST

3 years for the deaths of 2 people ...I would say that is lenient enough.

> Whether he fainted or fell asleep at the wheel 2 people died because of his actions.

> Accept the 3 years and thank your lucky stars it isn't 13 or 30 years.

Yes it isn't like he beat his daughter to death, in that case as we see regularly the Japanese get "suspended sentences.

Welcome to the Japanese justice system.

-5 ( +9 / -14 )

At the end of the day, the Japanese look after their own. I accepted that a long time ago. Call it ultra-nationalist, loyal, whatever, if it’s you up against a Japanese person in court, you better be coming with a stack of evidence.

-6 ( +7 / -13 )

When she handed down her sentence, the judge in this case noted that he made various inconsistent statements between his arrest and the trial. I'd be interested to know what they were.

The problem with the "I just passed out" defense is that it's nearly unfalsifiable. The only thing the court can do is look at your credibility, whether the average person tends to pass out in similar circumstances, your past medical history, and whether you got plenty of sleep the night before to exclude other possibilities. Clearly the judge was not convinced.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

If I killed someone under those circumstances, I wouldn't be asking for "leniency", in fact, I couldn't live with myself, much less the rath of the other family or prosecutors.

Of course the person responsible for my infant son's death, in Japan, thirty years ago, never spent a day in jail.

1 ( +10 / -9 )

His actions killed 2 people.

Three years is far to lenient. If he felt ill he should have pulled over immediately.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

Susan Davis

I would NEVER go to Japan to visit because I might end up in jail for a trumped up charge or worse. And NO WAY would I live there.

Then, why do you bother reading a Japan news website, let alone registering at one?

Aren't there countries you do want to visit, and possibly even live, that would provide more useful information for you?

14 ( +17 / -3 )

Get this appealed. Defendant suffered from High Altitude Syncope. Get the highest level medical witnesses to testify. Judge is an idiot or comforming to a higher up agenda. Defendant was on a vacation trip driving with his whole family. Such people don't push themselves to drive while sleep deprived because their family's lives are in his hands. His background indicates an upstanding resident. It was clearly an accident and that should be recognized and documented, not a forced and concocted reason to support liability to the victims. The liability exists independent of the cause of the accident and should not be prejudiced. State Dept should press Japan FM on this. For many years US service members practically got away with murder until the SOFA rules changed, The ruling in this case is the same thing in reverse. Both are wrong.

1 ( +17 / -16 )

There are other countries which are worse.

For a supposedly first-world/developed/civilized Japan's criminal justice system is like a relic from the 1800s. Korea and China are no better. The only one that resembles a true developed country in this sense is Taiwan.

-12 ( +5 / -17 )

The old guy who killed a mother and daughter in ikebukuro a few years ago in his car definitely did not do 26 days solitary confinement with no access to medical help etc... 

One law for the Japanese, another for everyone else

However a truck driver who hit 2 kids a few days earlier certainly was arrested and imprisoned.

This case started an online movement of anti “上級国民” or “high-class citizen” sentiment, because the old man (Iizuka Kozo) you mentioned was a wealthy former medical science education board member and recipient of the honored citizen award.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Because he wont admit he fell asleep

That's unkind nonsense !

He lost consciousness and even the crash didn't revive him.

Altitude sickness affects people differently.

Being a naval officer and i pressume due to his job description he has spent alot of time on submarines which may have had an effect on his body's blood pressure.

It's unfortunate the accident happened and sincere condolences to the injured and deceased.

However the justice system is extremely prejudice and the fact he received no medical attention during his 26 day confinement is a humanitarian crime !

-10 ( +5 / -15 )

 He didn’t even wake after the crash according to the article.

That's what he says. There is a very good chance that it's a lie.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

Too short for a highly trained professional soldier. 10 years.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Accept the 3 years and thank your lucky stars it isn't 13 or 30 years.

Exactly. If I got 3 years only when I was even minisculely at fault for killing 2 people (and yes, he should have stopped when feeling anything off), I would just take it and not complain.

4 ( +10 / -6 )

He is simply being used by Japan to placate the population showing that they do indeed prosecute and jail army personnel.

One you show your ignorance about the military in general by stating he was "army" personnel. He is in the Navy.

Second, this has NOT been an issue, and hardly mentioned in the Japanese mainstream press or media. So your presumption is off the mark as well.

3 years is a gift, considering he took 2 lives by his "mistake".

4 ( +8 / -4 )

If he keeps up complaining, I would not be surprised if the prosecution appeals and will try to get him a much higher sentence.

It has happened before in Japan and in many other places. Not only the defendant, but the "state" can also appeal a sentence.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

One you show your ignorance about the military in general by stating he was "army" personnel. He is in the Navy.

To be fair, those of us not American don't really care how you differentiate your branches of your army.

-4 ( +8 / -12 )

To be fair, those of us not American don't really care how you differentiate your branches of your army.

Very likely the exact same way the country you are from does.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Since the article states that he is a California native. Here is an excerpt from a California lawyer’s website, who specializes in vehicular manslaughter.

*Vehicular manslaughter is a “wobbler,” under California law, meaning it can be filed by the prosecuting agency as either a misdemeanor or a felony. *

If the defendant acted with ordinary negligence, Penal Code 192(c) PC is always a misdemeanor punishably by:

a maximum of one year in the county jail,

a fine up to $1,000.

On the other hand, a grossly negligent defendant can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony in the discretion of the prosecutor. 

If they elect to file a misdemeanor, the maximum punishment remains one year in the county jail. 

In a felony PC 192(c) vehicular manslaughter filing, the punishment if convicted can include:

two, four, or six years in the California state prison,

a fine up to $10,000.

Also, the collateral consequences of a felony conviction including loss of gun rights.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

 he received no medical attention during his 26 day confinement is a humanitarian crime !

It seems to me he did not admit his sickness (caused the accident) at the beginning of interrogation. Why he needs medical attention? He easily can stand to 26 days interrogation. He is a very trained soldier.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

@John-san

Being a pilot he knows the effects

He was driving a car not flying an airplane- submarines dont fly !

Alkonis,34, a specialist in underseas warfare and acoustic engineering

In Japan we drive on the left side of the road - so for anyone suffering of sudden altitude sickness and unconsciousness whilst driving down mt Fuji winding dizzying roads with his family might be extremely difficult.

Not to mention that other Japanese drivers on the roads are extremely poorly skilled.

-5 ( +7 / -12 )

He easily can stand to 26 days interrogation. He is a very trained soldier.

Firstly, he is a sailor or Naval Officer. Secondly, not all military personnel are “Recon Green Beret Navy SEAL TopGuns.” You’d be surprised to find that most military personnel are logistics, maintenance, or administrative or other technical specialists, and would probably struggle in a fight with Jim from accounting.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

So the judge is an expert on the neurological effects of high altitude is he, and he knows about how long they can be delayed when descending? I think not, he's just biased.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

I doubt the judge knows much if anything about the delayed effects of high altitude, but having said that, the American should have got his wife to drive if he was aware he wasn't so well.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

@susan davis

I would NEVER go to Japan

The fact is you've never visited Japan and never will and haven't lived here either.

So why its necessary to comment on a Japanese news forum ?

Glad you announced your not coming because you would appreciate Japan anyway !

An unfortunate accident that happened doesn't accurately advertise what regular everyday living in Japan is like.

The way the Japanese justice system works doesn't represent the culture !

Unfortunately due to your lack of open-mindedness and prejudices you will never know what Japan is like.

-2 ( +9 / -11 )

@BeerDeliveryGuy

He is an US Naval officer. He must have been trained strictly at Navel Academy before he became an officer. I've seen the movie "an Officer and a Gentleman".

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

A shocking tragedy for the family of the deceased.

Also for Ridge Alkonis, a U.S. Navy lieutenant and his family.

Japan justice system is unforgiving in many respects.

There is a lack of guidelines to judicial review of/to the value expert evidence from specialized technical/medical knowledge that can provide the facts in this case.

Prosecutors appear, from the article to have insisted that Ridge Alkonis must face retribution regardless of the any extenuating circumstances. And the Judge passed down sentence accordingly

I find the payment of restitution unsettling to say the least. It sets a path to buy a lenient verdict.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Actually he not a pilot but a diver. This shows he knows full well the effects of hypocy and procedures and after effects when subjected to these environments.

Years of training just ignored. Plus I assume the wife has a Japanese driver license seeing that her husband is away for long lengths of time. So why not ask the wife to drive? Could be that he always drives having no faith in a womens ability to drive. I really don’t know but I know he shouldn’t be crying hard done by to the media. You realise USA citizen in Japaneses prison fair the best of all aljins. That favoritism might not be afforded.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

No matter the cause, Alkonis' car veered into parked cars and pedestrians in a parking lot, striking an elderly woman and her son-in-law, both of whom later died.

Ridge Alkonis, a U.S. Navy lieutenant will serve his sentence, the family of the deceased, son-in-law widow through no fault of there own, will grieve wondering what could have been.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

MARK said it best:

Terrible accident that's all, I feel sorry for all involved. I am sure that if lives were not lost the judge would have sentenced Mr. Alkonis differently.

I note that responses were almost exclusively negative. That figures. The comments put stereotypes and biases on display once again.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

@Desert TortoiseToday 06:57 am JST

The key factors in this case would seem to be whether this Defendant had at least a bit of forewarning. If he realized he's not quite in it, it's his duty to stop driving and pull over. If he continues to push and he causes a lethal accident, he has violated his duty of care = negligence.

In the US holding a suspect for 26 days in solitary confinement

This guy is a clear flight risk. As this article puts it:

That statement says that when American authorities arrived to take Alkonis into custody and return him to a U.S. base, he already was held by the Japanese.

In other words, should this little BEEP get bail, immediately he'd be "rescued" into an American base by American authorities, who will insist he wasn't criminally negligent (just like they insisted the Commander who crashed his submarine into a fishing boat wasn't criminally negligent) and give him emergency air egress into the United States.

denying access to an attorney

So his attorney can teach him how to uh, not quite lie?

medical care

Isn't he supposed to be in good health except for that one moment when he somehow blacked out, with no forewarning at all?

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

citing an initial statement from Alkonis to police in which he said he felt drowsy after driving through mountainous curves.

Lost in translation. Never speak to Japanese police unless you are actually fluent in Japanese.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Cute picture of the guy that's still alive.

How about a picture of the crash scene.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

denying access to an attorney

> So his attorney can teach him how to uh, not quite lie?

You mean like all the recent cases where the prosecution withheld evidence the police forced confessions and we've been seeing people released from death row and life sentences for murder like that you mean?

How many have we seen in the past few years? And I am not just talking about the Foreigners,

When a state decides it can " interrogate" a suspect for up to 27 days at any time of the day and no lawyer, you know that the police and Prosecutors are up to no good.

If the police had nothing to hide the presence of a lawyer during interrogation wouldn't be a problem.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

There are cases like this. However, on the other extreme, if you wanted to commit a serious crime, Japan is the best country for that with the lightest criminal penalties on a global standard. This is especially compared to the USA.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

Japan is a sovereign country with own laws. If you don't like the system don't live here, it is simple.

As a military member you don't always have a choice of duty stations. His ship is assigned to Japan. The Status of Forces Agreement between the US and Japan govern such circumstances.

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

The key factors in this case would seem to be whether this Defendant had at least a bit of forewarning. If he realized he's not quite in it, it's his duty to stop driving and pull over. If he continues to push and he causes a lethal accident, he has violated his duty of care = negligence.

Prove it in a court of law with expert testimony, not speculation.

This guy is a clear flight risk. As this article puts it:

Under the control of the US Navy he is not a flight risk. What a risible statement.

So his attorney can teach him how to uh, not quite lie?

Rights guaranteed under the US Constitution is the right to an attorney and right to have an attorney present during questioning. A US military member does not surrender those rights while in the service even while abroad. But it speaks to how detestable the Japanese legal system is that it routinely holds suspects in solitary confinement for up to 26 days while denying access to legal representation and interrogating suspects for long hours under circumstances that come oh so close to torture. The attorney is there to protect the rights of their client, and keep the interrogators honest.

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

The neurologist's testimony was ignored.

The judge's opinion about medical conditions prevails.

Any mountain's monkey's testimony would be valid if it is against a foreigner.

-13 ( +3 / -16 )

Rights guaranteed under the US Constitution is the right to an attorney and right to have an attorney present during questioning

News flash these are the same rights as most civilized western countries. Including not limited to Australia, Canada, UK, France, NZ, Belgium, etc... Only backwards legal systems don't have that right and Japan!

But the japanophiles will defend it anyway,

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

Plus I assume the wife has a Japanese driver license seeing that her husband is away for long lengths of time. So why not ask the wife to drive?

Check your assumptions please. He has a daughter who is over 7 years old and has been in Japan less than seven years. A more likely assumption is his wife is American and accompanied him to Japan.

Coming from the US driving in Japan on the left side of the road with unfamiliar signage might be a bit more daunting than you imagine. Maybe his wife never bothered to get a license?

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

In May, the hiking trails at Fujinomiya are not officially open so they most likely drove to the 5th station around 2.5km high and walked a bit around there. Now, you can get altitude sickness but at ~2.5km it will not knock you out unless of some underlying medical condition. And the syptoms go away when you descent. Maybe he got dizzy on the curvy road instead? Anyway, no excuse as two people died.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

so you assume that the wife prefers for herself and her family to take public transport while the driver of the household and husband is away for 3-4 months duration. Yeah Na. I suggest the wife doses have a Japanese or international licence. Your theory of her not having a license is credible but very highly unlikely.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

This is why I let my Japanese girlfriend drive most of the time and I have extra insurance for added lawyer fees

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Coming from the US driving in Japan on the left side of the road with unfamiliar signage might be a bit more daunting than you imagine.

No, it's actually much less. You can pick up driving on the left side in probably 5 minutes.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

So if charged with negligence and you have full insurance does that cover the compensation to the injured parties?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Acute mountain sickness while driving? I don't buy it. The altitude sickness starts hitting at around 3,000m and it would take a series of red flags to get to the point of unconsciousness.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

he was arrested by Japanese authorities and held for 26 days in solitary confinement at a police detention facility, interrogated multiple times a day and was not given a medical treatment or evaluation, according to a statement of facts provided by a family spokesman.

Gestapo interrogation methods 101!!!

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

In Japanese law Falling asleep behind wheel = drunk driving. Three years for dozing off and killing two. Please don't complain. He is lucky that he's a servicemen. Also as a military he is very much aware about the risk of altitude sickness. Regret and loss is another thing.

Eric Feldman, a professor of Japanese law at the University of Pennsylvania, said that instinct is especially understandable in Japan, where the criminal justice system values expressions of remorse and where payment to victims can sometimes avert criminal prosecution.

He is talking about the famous Japanese statement "I am sorry, I don't remember anything and bow"

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

There is plenty of injustice in the world, unfortunately.

A 2014 AP investigation found that at U.S. military bases in Japan, most service members judged culpable in sex crimes in recent years did not go to prison, with offenders instead routinely punished by demotions, fines or removal from the military.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Prosecutors in Japan are liars. They will arrest and isolate a person giving them no contact to anyone and say to the person that they can remain silent and a lawyer may be present, then continue to question, knowing full well that the person has no access to a lawyer. Normally in Japan, a person can be held for 23 days without charge (that is disgraceful), but only extended to 27 days in cases involving terrorism or national security. He has been treated like a terrorist.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

As usual the article does not disclose the altitude of site of accident. The highest altitude a car can go is 5th station (2400m). The 4th station is at 2010m. He hit people at parking lot of a Soba restaurant, So it must be at 4th or lower station. Altitude sickness after coming down 1000m ummmm?.. It will be difficult to prove medically both ways.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

He later testified to feeling sudden mountain sickness — a finding supported by a neurologist's June 2021 diagnosis — but the judge said such a sensation should have abated as Alkonis drove down the mountain.

So now the judge think he knows better than a neurologist?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

There is a lot of hate about Japan here. For those haters, what is your personal experience of being in the "hostage" system of Japan? You or your friends. I read messages about "liars", "kidnappers", but no specifics to personal stories.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Don't Japanese courts require evidence and proof of claims made in court? What's all this stuff about "the judge seemed skeptical" and "the Judge said maybe"? In a real court, you need experts to clarify these possibilities, not the judge's skepticism. And then there's the part about 28 days of solitary confinement... Aren't people presumed innocent until proven guilty? (I know, I know, the police get away with this all the time.) Oh, and one more thing, where was the US Embassy while all this was going on? In the end precious lives were lost and damage was done. Let's see if the justice system can work in a proper way.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Unconscious lol, that's a clever way to put negligence or even under influence

Enjoy yourself in a tiny cell!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

. I read messages about "liars", "kidnappers", but no specifics to personal stories.

Really?

OK here!

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-20234596.amp

Here

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/12/06/national/sakae-menda-death-row-obituary/

Here

https://amp.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/11/japan-man-freed-after-45-years-on-death-row-could-go-back-to-jail

Plenty more if one opens their eyes.

But I suspect they don't want to see,

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Garthgoyle

Today 01:59 pm JST

Acute mountain sickness while driving? I don't buy it. The altitude sickness starts hitting at around 3,000m and it would take a series of red flags to get to the point of unconsciousness

And you attended what medical school ?

No the stand6is 2,500 m and it all depends on the individual as some are more subceptible at lower altitudes especially people that have lived all there lives at very low altitudes.

And yes I am medically trained specifically as a search and rescue paramedic but despite it being decades since I left, the medical facts haven't changed and just in case I double checked.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Don't Japanese courts require evidence and proof of claims made in court? What's all this stuff about "the judge seemed skeptical" and "the Judge said maybe"?

Japanese judges do not need evidence as long as the defendant can doubt him / herself. The prosecutor can do this. He / She will ask questions like "Do you think it is possible that ........". When a rational sane person would reply on the grounds that there are many possibilities, the prosecutor will word the defendants statement "It is possible that ...."

Japanese interrogation methods have change little since WW2. The police / prosecutor will start by asking questions he / she already knows the answer to. Then the police / prosecutor will ask a question and suddenly change tone whatever answer is given, often raising their voices saying "don't lie".

The police / prosecutor will often end the interrogation by saying "That is all for now" knowing he has plenty of time. (23 days. 26 in this case).

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Beer delivery guy

Because the truck driver was under the influence of alcohol. I am in no way saying this American guy is guilty or not, my point is that he was detained in solitary confinement when in many cases, a Japanese citizen would not be. Wanna bet the truck driver wasn't?

A guy I know got into a fight and punched a Japan man who hit him. Guess who was arrested and detained for 3 weeks?

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

A guy I know got into a fight and punched a Japan man who hit him. Guess who was arrested and detained for 3 weeks?

Don't have guess. And here is the key. Foreigners are not dealt with by the same prosecutors as Japanese. Always remember, Japans International Police are not Interpol. Incidentally, if arrested in Japan, a person has the right to request to see a representative from their countries embassy at any time. If the police refuse they are in violation. This in effect means that Japan is not (or not behaving like) it's own Sovereign country.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

@Desert Tortoise Today 12:25 pm JST

Prove it in a court of law with expert testimony, not speculation.

That's done. He's already convicted. I just briefly explain the relevant legal standard. And don't be stupid. No court can just acquit someone because he said "I had no intention" or "I really just blacked out at the perfect nanosecond."

Under the control of the US Navy he is not a flight risk. What a risible statement.

Let's be very honest with each other, Desert Tortoise. According to the article, the American authorities tried to get to him first, but failed. Had they actually reached him, do you think they would hand him over? If so, why rush to get him in the first place. Are you suggesting they won't hand him over but will trial him themselves as a substitute? What do you think about the reliability of a Yankee trial where a person can make clear mistakes but have his wrong swept under the criminal rug.

Americans have shot down airliners (under the luxury of an Aegis-cruiser with datalink support, so if they insist they can't see what's happening, no one can), crashed into fishing boats with subs, bombed embassies ... all without anyone ever being found criminally liable. Either American military courts are biased towards their own, or they were honestly applying the usual substantive and procedural standards, except they are so high that in practise no one would ever reach them. Which means **impunity.**

Substantively then, we can see that letting him out is a "flight risk" - if he is carted into a US base, statistically justice is over unless you have already acquitted him in your mind.

The attorney is there to protect the rights of their client, and keep the interrogators honest.

And how does he do that? By teaching his client how to thread the needle to fall just below the thereshold of lying, or to just not say anything.

A US military member does not surrender those rights while in the service even while abroad.

But he chooses to leave camp voluntarily, and at that point he has volunteered to accept whatever are the laws of the country he has stepped into.

He later testified to feeling sudden mountain sickness — a finding supported by a neurologist's June 2021 diagnosis — but the judge said such a sensation should have abated as Alkonis drove down the mountain.

If he's able to "feel" sudden mountain sickness, he had time to react. He didn't just black out. He should have stopped the moment he felt the purported "sudden mountain sickness".

@AntiquesavingToday 03:46 pm JST

No the stand6is 2,500 m and it all depends on the individual as some are more subceptible at lower altitudes especially people that have lived all there lives at very low altitudes.

An airliner's air is as thin as 2400m (8000 feet). If the "standard" is 2500m, our airliners must be cutting us very close from hypoxia.

https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2018/9/21/17887130/jet-airways-airplane-cabin-pressure

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Im surprised why is an American soldier subject to Japanese law.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

A whole lot of foreign guests in this country complaining that Japan is _____ (use the negative word of your choosing).

The last time I checked, Japan is a sovereign national with its own laws and systems in place to do things how they wish to do them. Comparing your home country's ways against Japan's is a massive waste of time. It doesn't matter what's right and what's wrong here in comparison to the country you came from. This ain't that country.

It sounds like most of the people complaining here are white people, who look for outrage at every turn. Get over it. You move to Japan, you fall under the laws here. You drive, same deal. Doesn't matter what you say about the laws or criminal justice system of Japan.

-1 ( +9 / -10 )

Jadyn mate, what’s the races of your fellow commentators here got to do with this crime and the poor victims?

We’re all just “people”, mate.

Best to ya.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

And you attended what medical school ?

Thanks for asking. As a matter of fact, yes. I am medically trained, specifically in search and rescue and have to deal with people with acute mountain sickness in Fuji constantly, and I don't buy his story.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

but the judge said such a sensation should have abated as Alkonis drove down the mountain.

And since when has the judge been a medical professional?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

A whole lot of foreign guests in this country complaining that Japan is _____ (use the negative word of your choosing).

The last time I checked, Japan is a sovereign national with its own laws and systems in place, blah blah blah.....

Yes and I guess you are going to give more excuses as to why Japan can do this and if we don't like it leave, blah blah blah.

The japanophiles excuses sound like the guy that says " but look at how she dressed" "she was asking for it".

Japan and the Japanese want to be taken seriously, treated as equals with western nations, it signs agreements, conventions then blatantly ignores everything it signed and acts exactly like the backwards Asian country it claims not to be.

Hague convention on children, Japan ignores, the agreement to embassy access Japan regularly ignores it.

I have been here over 30 years I have personally known embassy consulars from multiple embassies and every one year after year has the same story, Japanese authority blocking access despite agreeing to the same rules as the rest of the civilized countries.

You are right, Japan is a sovereign nation but not a "developed" nation as it claims, it is still the dictatorial country it so desperately wants not to be, unfortunately the police, judges, prosecutors and powerful political dynasties are unwilling to give up the power they have and have always had.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

I personally know Alkonis and wanted to clear up a few of the ignorant misconceptions and false statements that I keep reading on this thread.

1) Alkonis is not a stranger to Japan or Japanese culture or customs. He lived here for two years prior to joining the Navy on a service mission with his church (not related to military service in the least). During his time here he learned to read, write, and speak Japanese. He knows how to drive on the left side of the road and can read road signs.

2) He was never a flight risk after the incident. Being here as a SOFA member he is required to face his trial and the US government is required to keep him in the country. The US Military was not going to hide him from Japanese Law or keep him from having a Japanese trial.

https://www.mofa.go.jp/region/n-america/us/q&a/ref/2.html#:~:text=The%20authorities%20of%20Japan%20shall,law%20of%20the%20United%20States.

3) He isn't a pilot nor a submariner nor some highly trained commando. During his 26 days of solitary confinement he was forced to sleep with the lights on at night and was refused medical assistance (both mental and physical). He endured daily and lengthy interrogations without representation, and counseling or adequate language translation.

4) Yes we live in Japan and yes Japan has its own customs and laws but do those laws from a generic human rights perspective make sense in 2022? How is it still okay in a modern country that someone can be held for being a suspect of a crime without charge for 26 days and endure intense questioning and be denied medical treatment whether that person be American or Japanese? All while any small misspoken or misunderstood statement made by a sleep deprived and exhausted individual during that questioning be used to build a case against them. Japan has a 99.99% conviction rate for those who go to trial. How is that acceptable, especially with cases being built on what a sleep deprived individual (who may have not actually been charged with anything and only there because they are suspected of a crime) said during his/her many hours of questioning while in solitary confinement without a lawyer? How can a judge simply dismiss a testimony from a medical professional (which many of you keyboard warriors seem to also do)? Japan truly does have one foot of their legal system stuck in the pre-industrial 1800s.

https://www-nippon-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/www.nippon.com/en/japan-topics/c05401/amp/?amp_gsa=1&amp_js_v=a9&usqp=mq331AQKKAFQArABIIACAw%3D%3D#amp_tf=From%20%251%24s&aoh=16545140288644&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&ampshare=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nippon.com%2Fen%2Fjapan-topics%2Fc05401%2Forder-in-the-court-explaining-japan%25E2%2580%2599s-99-9-conviction-rate.html

Before making anymore ignorant remarks about anyone in the news please reflect and realize you don't know all the facts and you don't know what exactly happened. None of us know what exactly Alkonis felt at that moment he blacked out or the moments leading up to it. To say he is lying is a lie in and of itself because you don't know. Also, instead of just saying Japan's justice system is the way it is and we should all be happy with it maybe look at it from a modern human rights perspective and really think if it's a fair and just process you would want to go through if something similar happened to you. Anyone of us commenting on here could have been driving that car instead of Alkonis.

My heart truly does go out to the family that lost their loved ones in this tragic accident. I can't imagine the grief and suffering from their loss. It is sad to see both of these families suffer from what was truly an accident.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Correct me if I am wrong but didn't the judge make a ruling based on what should have been something a doctor should have explained in the court of law. Perhaps this was done but the judge basically made the ruling based on what he or she thought and they are not medical doctors thats an assumption!

The judge said that though it was conceivable Alkonis was suffering from light mountain sickness, it was difficult to imagine he went from not feeling drowsy at all to becoming suddenly incapacitated.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

RoyalS

Today 09:09 pm JST

Thanks for the information but the japan apologists will never accept that Japan has any faults, that is just the way they are.

Last year I had a major heart attack while driving, I was barely able to to steer my car to the side of the road but I managed,

Had I lost control and injured someone, the apologists here would say something like " you shouldn't have been driving if you could have a heart attack" or something silly along those lines.

I don't try taking them seriously.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

While I was working in Okinawa in 2010 an American coworker, a senior Naval officer, was returning from the airport late one evening. While he was stopped for a red light he was rear-ended by an inebriated Japanese driver who slammed into his car at full speed. My friend went to the hospital by ambulance and was out of work for over a month. His car was demolished. He said that, as far as he knew, nothing happened to the Japanese driver. The only compensation that he received was when the Japanese driver visited him at the hospital and presented him with a card stating that he was sorry and a cake.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

It is very clear that Alkonis drove the car and made an accident and killed two people whatever, so he would be convicted and go to jail for 3 years. That is all about it.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

To be fair, those of us not American don't really care how you differentiate your branches of your army.

But there are many of us Americans that DO want to know the branches of our armed forces

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It is very clear that Alkonis drove the car and made an accident and killed two people whatever, so he would be convicted and go to jail for 3 years. That is all about it.

Nobody "makes" ,an accident, that is why they are called accidents. Accidents are never "clear". This is where Japans twisted dynamics come into play. Usually when an accident happens with no ill intent, compensation is paid. Being non-Japanese, he is held hostage. Japans rather stupid judges seem to have no idea of compensation amounts which are reasonable, but foreigners are easy prey to Japans hostage taking prosecutors. (Note, judges in Japan are mere rubber stampers). Japanaphiles, take off your rose tinted spectacles. And that's about it.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

This is a bit of an odd case, to be sure. While altitude sickness can certainly cause dizziness and increased fatigue, I’m not finding much on complete loss of consciousness. At the judge said, it seems out of the ordinary for someone to go from fully conscious to blacking out in an instant strictly from changes in elevation. It’s quite possible there were more medical factors at play here.

From what the article says, it seems that the case hinges on the timeframe, rather than strictly the cause. The prosecution is arguing negligence by saying he should have pulled over the moment he started feeling drowsy or lightheaded. That would imply the onset of symptoms was slow enough to be noticed and reacted to (which seems to align more closely with the effects of altitude sickness alone). The defense is arguing that the transition from awake and alert to fully unconscious was near instantaneous, and thus he would have had no time to pull over, even if he had wanted to (which seems unlikely from changes in elevation alone). That begs the question; was there some other medical factor that was exacerbated by the change in pressure? The seeming lack of medical examination of the accused is troubling, since whatever happened could very well have been a highly transient affair, making proof of what happened progressively more difficult to ascertain as time passes.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

If you cannot prove that his altitude sickness kicked slow enough to let him pull over, then he is innocent.

Innocent until proven guilty

Isn't that the main rule of law?

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

One of the first warning signs of altitude sickness is reduced energy. Individuals who are getting altitude sickness tend to become very fatigued, though they may also have a difficult time sleeping. The fatigue is due to a lack of oxygen circulating in the blood. Oxygen is required for muscle function, so without enough of it, individuals feel weak and tired. 

This symptom of altitude sickness may be easily ignored because patients may attribute the fatigue to other things. For example, a climber might think their fatigue is due to the exertion of climbing. This may be true in some cases. If someone who is traveling to high altitudes feels fatigued, they should pay close attention to how they feel. If any other symptoms of altitude sickness show up, it is important to get to a lower altitude immediately. The Proctor (Judge) has more Courtroom authority Than a U.S. Judge. Having spent 17yrs in Japan both as a military & civilian under SOFA, I’m amazed at the low (3yrs) Sentence for an accident that caused the death of a Japanese National. Accidental deaths of a Japanese citizens are a costly Incident because the Procurator takes in the age & earning potential if the injured/deceased individual (s) involved!!!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

He would of been charge with negligence homicide in the US,an ask to pay restitution,too the family and got probation,with a light stay in jail

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

He won't be indicted in any modern country.

The neurologist made it clear that it was an accident.

Prosecutor must find a prove of guild beyond any doubt.

And judge must take in the neurological evidence.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

If you cannot prove that his altitude sickness kicked slow enough to let him pull over, then he is innocent.

Innocent until proven guilty

Isn't that the main rule of law?

> He won't be indicted in any modern country.

The neurologist made it clear that it was an accident.

Prosecutor must find a prove of guild beyond any doubt.

And judge must take in the neurological evidence.

Well yeah. He was innocent and apparently the judge found the prosecution’s arguments in favor of negligence more compelling than the defense’s attempts to rebut those arguments. And I’m willing to bet the prosecution had their own neurologist who testified that altitude sickness does not cause sudden, catastrophic loss of consciousness.

It’s not at if the prosecution went up and said “He’s guilty” and then rested their case without evidence.

You can argue the merits of both sides’ evidence for sure, and I’m certain both sides did. You can also make plenty of compelling arguments against the conviction. But just because he was convicted and you or I or anyone else might have come to a different conclusion doesn’t mean he was presumed guilty from the start.

The article is pretty scant on what evidence or witnesses the prosecution presented and it may very well be that if we saw their evidence, we’d have a different opinion on his guilt.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Nobody "makes" ,an accident, that is why they are called accidents. Accidents are never "clear". This is where Japans twisted dynamics come into play. Usually when an accident happens with no ill intent, compensation is paid. Being non-Japanese, he is held hostage. Japans rather stupid judges seem to have no idea of compensation amounts which are reasonable, but foreigners are easy prey to Japans hostage taking prosecutors. (Note, judges in Japan are mere rubber stampers). Japanaphiles, take off your rose tinted spectacles. And that's about it.

Why Alkonis paid 1.6 million to victims families? He did not have to pay that. Because he himself feels very guilty about the accident. He accepted the accident killed 2 people whatever. In any countries same judgement would be sentenced to him in the court as he is guilty.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

@Zoroto

There's a very good chance it's a lie

Your absolutely incorrect because it was his family in the car that witnessed when he regained consciousness.

He didn't lie !

Unless you were actually in the car ? Don't make sensational assumptions

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

@RoyalS June 6 09:09 pm JST

2) How do you jive the theory of the law with the reality that according to the article the United States authorities were clearly trying to "rescue" him? It doesn't seem worth the effort if all they are going to do is have to give him back.

Even according to the SOFA, a lot of things can happen once your buddy is physically in US custody. For example, they can refuse to hand him over while the Department of State applies diplomatic pressure for Japan to "voluntarily waive" the right to jurisdiction (Article XVII, Paragraph 3c). Or they can abuse authority and just declare him to be on-duty:

これが如実に現れたのが、1974年の「伊江島住民狙撃事件」である。当初、在沖米軍は容疑者の“公務外”を認め、日本に一次裁判権を譲ったが、直後にアメリカ合衆国国務省・アメリカ国防総省の強い反発と突き上げを受け、事件の概要を改変してまで急遽公務証明を発給し、日本外務省の抗議の中、一次裁判権を強引に移管させた。国務長官緊急電の『国務省・国防総省共同メッセージ』はその理由を「米国内の事情」と「もし裁判権を行使し損なったら、その影響は米国が他の国々と結んでいる一連の地位協定にまで及び、……米軍要員の士気にも及ぶ」ためであるとしている。

I assume as Alkonis' (guy who speaks Japanese) friend, you don't need a translator for the above paragraph. How should I interpret the above?

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

You're saying Americans are not above the law ?? How can it be ?

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

If he's able to "feel" sudden mountain sickness, he had time to react. He didn't just black out. He should have stopped the moment he felt the purported "sudden mountain sickness".

It is obviously not as easy as that, one of the most common symptoms of mountain sickness is confusion, which obviously makes it much more difficult to react properly. According to the expert's testimony there is nothing impossible to abruptly losing consciousness because of this. There is no point in pretending he should have been continuously expecting to lose conscience at any momen so he could have stopped the vehicle in a fraction of a second it takes to lose control of himself. Even insulin dependent diabetic drivers (that know the symptoms of an hypoglycemic event) can enter stupor before being able to stop when they are not expecting it (for example erratic insulin release from fat deposits in the injection site, which are unpredictable).

4 ( +5 / -1 )

If you feel a sudden bout of "confusion", you should simply have stopped. The article doesn't say that his expert (and you can usually get some "expert" to say almost anything, and that's why an expert handpicked by the defendant doesn't always move the judge) even said he can lose consciousness so fast he won't have a chance to react, just that he might have "sudden" sickness, which is still not so sudden that he can't even feel it, obviously.

The standard is to eliminate reasonable doubt, not to eliminate every micropossibility the defense can dream up.

If I'm a diabetic driver, and I kill two people, I'm not going to complain too hard if the judge doesn't believe my tale about "unpredictable fat deposits" causing sudden insulin release that processed all my sugar so fast I can't even think of stopping ... just conveniently happening just before my little accident.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

The neurologist made it clear that it was an accident.

Unless you have a second neurologist to contrast, you must take it as as conclusive evidence.

The fact that the judge discards the neurologist opinion and makes up his own opinion based on no scientific evidence whatsoever is outrageous.

The judge is dishonouring the Neuroscientist profession.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

If you feel a sudden bout of "confusion", you should simply have stopped. 

I don't think you understand what confusion means, it makes as much sense to expect someone to react properly while confused than to expect him to do it while unconscious.

 The article doesn't say that his expert (and you can usually get some "expert" to say almost anything, and that's why an expert handpicked by the defendant doesn't always move the judge) even said he can lose consciousness so fast he won't have a chance to react

The defense brought him to argument sudden onset of mountain sickness was possible and could have caused the accident, if the prosecution disagrees they need an expert themselves to argue, just saying "I don't think so" is terribly inadequate and an invalid appeal to authority (because none of the people disbelieving the testimony of the expert have any authority in the field).

 I'm a diabetic driver, and I kill two people, I'm not going to complain too hard if the judge doesn't believe my tale about "unpredictable fat deposits" causing sudden insulin release that processed all my sugar so fast I can't even think of stopping ... just conveniently happening just before my little accident.

Even if true? that makes no sense. It is a well described phenomenon that causes the patient to suddenly lose control same as montain sickness appearing unexpectedly (not only while driving). Just because you don't think it is possible it does not mean it ceases to exist and be a completely valid explanation for the accident. To argue against it it is necessary an expert that can testify this is not the case.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

@bokudaToday 04:17 pm JST

He later testified to feeling sudden mountain sickness — a finding supported by a neurologist's June 2021 diagnosis — but the judge said such a sensation should have abated as Alkonis drove down the mountain.

Above is what the article actually said. The defendant changed his story midstream (which did nothing for his credibility). He scraped up a neurologist, who made a diagnosis ... but based on what? The article said nothing about the presence of objective indicators, if any can even be found. Hypoxia goes away very quickly as oxygen is restored - trace chemicals are unlikely. And obviously if he just fell asleep at the wheel there won't be out of the ordinary chemicals. Under this situation, the diagnosis is as good as the symptom description given by the patient. Even if the truth is he was downed to chemicals, I doubt one can tell by trace chemicals how fast he was downed. At best the doctor can say the story is possible.

If you tell a doctor that "two weeks ago", you had a fever, runny nose ... etc, he'd diagnose you had the flu. But of course, that's only accurate if you didn't lie. Maybe you had no symptoms two weeks ago, in which case the diagnosis is garbage.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Above is what the article actually said. The defendant changed his story midstream (which did nothing for his credibility). He scraped up a neurologist, who made a diagnosis ... but based on what? The article said nothing about the presence of objective indicators, if any can even be found.

Again, the neurologist has demonstrable expertise in the topic, his opinion professional. Saying he is wrong just because is not valid, doctors make diagnosis based on indirect evidence all the time, including in this case descriptions that are much more congruent with losing conscience than just falling sleep at the wheel. If a neurologist says this is a valid explanation that means anybody arguing against it requires at least someone with the same degree of expertise. After all people without a professional knowledge of the problem base their disbelief in ignorance about it, that is not a valid argument because then the more ignorant a Judge is then the less value any professional testimony would have.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The defendant changed his story midstream (which did nothing for his credibility).

He was interrogated without lawyer in solitary confinement for 26 days.

Most likely the police was making up the story and the translator, if any, was clueless of whatever the defendant was forced to sign.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

@virusrexToday 04:31 pm JST

Ah, I see, you want to argue he's in a depressed mental state from hypoxia. Granted, hypoxic symptoms are said to be subtle, but he is a military man with an specialty in underseas warfare. That he has no training in how oxygen conditions can affect him is implausible. Further, he never went "higher" (in terms of air pressure) than what he might experience in an airliner, which thins out to 8000 feet (2438m). He's in that area he can use the car, which tops out at about 2300m.

https://www.dangerousroads.org/asia/japan/1244-fuji-subaru-line-japan.html

Unless he has a history of having problems with airliners, the probability that he was just suddenly wiped is nearly zero. Millions of babies, grannies and other people not in the best of health have been able to use airliners without problems.

The defense brought him to argument sudden onset of mountain sickness was possible and could have caused the accident, if the prosecution disagrees they need an expert themselves to argue, just saying "I don't think so" is terribly inadequate and an invalid appeal to authority (because none of the people disbelieving the testimony of the expert have any authority in the field).

Actually, all they have to do is dispute the data source used by the neurologist. Hypoxia doesn't leave objective indicators (like convenient trace chemicals), so the doc can only go on whatever the defendant (so unreliable, he's not even liable for perjury!) and his family members (only one step more reliable) tell him. If he swears that he suddenly blacked out, his (coached?) family members back him up, and indeed somewhere out there is someone who is just uber weak even to airliner-grade air, the neurologist can only put these three together and diagnose he just happens to one of that rare demographic.

That doesn't mean there's much probability of that being the case. And when it comes to dealing with liars, police and prosecutors likely have more experience than a doc will.

Even if true? that makes no sense.

At some point, I think a defendant has to accept that the fates have given him a weak hand. That's why you are allowed to plead guilty and yet protest your innocence later in some book.

I don't doubt that somewhere, someplace, this has happened. But there's a gap selling that it happens and selling that it might just have happened to me just when I need it to excuse myself of the fact I killed two people. I don't want to be the judge that tells a family that a person who killed two of their own is to receive no punishment (to many, a Suspended Sentence is no punishment at all) because he had some kind of one in a million condition.

Trials need to be fair. The prosecution is set a high burden of proof to offset the fact they usually have many more resources. However, there are evidence they can't get, and if you insist on needing that to convict, you are neutering the substantive law.

If in reality the standards are set so high no one can be convicted, there are only three things that can happen. First, lots of injustices. Second, the substantive law gets relaxed. For example, negligent driving may evolve to become a crime of absolute liability - no mental state required: you crash; you die. Three, it comes back to you another way. For example, maybe drivers will be obligated to wear biomedical monitoring devices as if they are astronauts, just so when accidents happened it can be objectively determined if they really just conked out in a blink of an eye or suffered such a beautifully subtle degradation of mental faculties decision making is impaired.

You tell me if that's a preferable state of affairs.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

In the Japanese "Justice" the standards are set soo incredible low that the evidence is ignored and the prosecutors are free to fabricate any evidence or confession they like.

Look at this article, there's no evidence of guilt anywhere on it.

Yet, the judge decides that all the defence is lying.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Ah, I see, you want to argue he's in a depressed mental state from hypoxia.

Again, it is not MY argument but the argument from a professional that says so, against his professional opinion the explanations of laymen that contradict him without evidence are no adequate nor valid.

Whatever you think about this person training has exactly zero authority, so it may be your personal belief but has no merit against a professional saying this is something that could have happened to the defendant Specially because it is much more congruent with the description of his state than falling sleep.

Bring an expert that can put his name and reputation to the claim the driver could not have experience mountain sickness of sudden onset that could explain the accident. Then that argument can be held against the opposite professional opinion that says it could.

Actually, all they have to do is dispute the data source used by the neurologist

Yes, by a trained neurologist that says it is not adequate or sufficient to reach the conclusions made, not by laymen trying to decide things over which they have no expertise.

That doesn't mean there's much probability of that being the case

According to whom? to you? then you would need to provide proof of expertise so your opinion can be taken into account, because the person that says it is perfectly possible do have those credentials.

I don't doubt that somewhere, someplace, this has happened. But there's a gap selling that it happens and selling that it might just have happened to me just when I need it to excuse myself of the fact I killed two people

And that is your whole problem, you blindly assume a neurologist is wrong because the accused must have been simply sleep. If the explanation is possible, congruent with the evidence and a professional puts his name behind this explanation then contradicting this requires more than just someone saying "I don't believe it".

The prosecution is set a high burden of proof to offset the fact they usually have many more resources

The prosecution only have to bring a professional contradicting the neurologist, that is not even that high of a burden, what they can't do is to pretend they have the expertise to contradict him in his field based on absolutely nothing but what they want to beleive.

If in reality the standards are set so high no one can be convicted,

What "so high" are you talking about? according to you it is trivially easy to bring another neurologist to contradict the testimony from the first one. How come this now became such an impossible task? according to you it is quite easy to find someone that says whatever they want.

Maybe, and this is the main point, they can't do it because a professional would have to recognize the argument of the defense as valid, so it is not that easy to bring anybody with a title saying whatever you want him to say.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@Yubaru YubaruToday  08:24 am JST

After the crash near Fujinomiya, he was arrested by Japanese authorities and held for 26 days in solitary confinement at a police detention facility, interrogated multiple times a day and was not given a medical treatment or evaluation, according to a statement of facts provided by a family spokesman. That statement says that when American authorities arrived to take Alkonis into custody and return him to a U.S. base, he already was held by the Japanese.

Something is strange here, as there is nowhere in the article that states whether or not he was under SOFA status, and assuming he wasn't, then there was no requirement for the Japanese authorities to return him to US military control.

This "statement of facts" while believable, is not the whole story, and only one side.

This is a good question but I don't think him being under SOFA or not would have had any effect on his treatment as just him being active duty in a SOFA member country alone would automatically protect him as he's still as asset to the US military. They would most definitely step in and assist him with the same help and legal protection as they would for SOFA sponsored personnel. I've personally seen cases like this and with active duty soldiers who came here on TDY or just for vacation, got into trouble with the law (drunk driving/not paying cab fare/rape, etc), and in every situation, they were represented by base personnel of their respected branch.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

it is not MY argument but the argument from a professional

We've been going beyond the argument from The Pro for hours now. This started with me quoting this at 5:54PM JST yesterday:

He later testified to feeling sudden mountain sickness — a finding supported by a neurologist's June 2021 diagnosis — but the judge said such a sensation should have abated as Alkonis drove down the mountain.

And me saying if that's so he had time to react. Whether he has a chance to react is perhaps the biggest decision point in this case. You then started adding to his argument by suggesting he's in confusion (2:28PM JST today). Confusion means a person is disorientated but, most importantly of all, he is aware he is disorientated. If that's so, he can stop. Saying Defendant is confused does not help him at all and I merely point that out. So now you add even more to the argument, describing something I won't call "confusion" at all (4:31PM). You've been building on his argument, at least as literally represented in the article, for hours now.

While I did say on the side that experts can be recruited to say almost anything, I'm not even going that hard at his competence or integrity. Though I must remind you that some people like Professor Cleary in the Taylor case are clearly willing to expose their ignorance or indifference to even textbook level Japanese jurisprudence in their rush to say something positive for a fellow White. And they didn't bother countering with another law professor. The American court accepted the arguments of the Japanese side and Taylor duly was shipped to Japan.

The big problems with "the pro's" testimony, as far as the Defendant is concerned, is first, it doesn't go far enough for him. If all he says is "sudden morning sickness", well, it's clear the judge and prosecutor had similar thoughts to me. If all he had is "sudden morning sickness", it's giving people no indication of anything sufficient to excuse him.

And if (in the part that's not in the article), the Expert indeed said that he's in a Depressed Mental State due to hypoxia - he's not so much confused as to the point he can't even realize he's confused. Here, what the Expert says clashes with people's everyday experience. We have all flown jets where the pressures are decreased to levels comparable to the highest point Defendant has been that day. Is it possible to get sick on a jet? Yes, quite common. Not feeling our sharpest? Sure. Depressed mental states? Not so much. Of course, I don't see the need to assume the Expert went head on against Common Sense. Thus, he most likely suggested it as a rare but extant possibility, rather than a common one. The problem then becomes raising it from being a theoretical possibility to something approaching reasonable doubt.

On this point, the main problem is the Credibility of the Defendant and his Family, the assessment of which the neurologist is NOT expert in. Ten experts may indeed agree, given the "facts" offered to them by this family, that Defendant suffered a rare but nevertheless possible sudden blackout. But the defendant has no credibility - he's not even theoretically liable for perjury, and the family is not far behind on the Credibility Scale. The judge is not bound to assume the family was honest in proferring facts to the expert.

And that's why in the end, the judge would have a choice. To call that theoretical possibility reasonable doubt, or not. Maybe in an American court, he'd really get away with it. And that's why American courts let their warships shoot down airliners with impunity.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

It doesn't matter if he fell asleep, had an illness, wasn't paying attention, or was smoking meth while driving...he KILLED two people. Stop complaining about his UNFAIR 3 year sentence. Surely he can survive 3 years with his Japanese language skills, prior military training, and devotion to God. Entitled parents thinking a cash payout should buy his way out of killing two people.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

A modern justice system that cares about credibility would not put a man in solitary confinement without lawyer to get a forced confession.

An then talk about the credibility of the forced confession.

Its nonsense all along.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

We've been going beyond the argument from The Pro for hours now

The problem is that you insist that your personal opinion is enough to prove his professional opinion as wrong, which is not valid.

And me saying if that's so he had time to react.

But that has no value, this is an appeal to your authority surpassing the one of a neurologist, which of course makes no sense.

Confusion means a person is disorientated but, most importantly of all, he is aware he is disorientated.

According to whom? again to you? what is your experience in treating mountain sickness and the confusion it causes? how can you make an argument about it without any authority?

While I did say on the side that experts can be recruited to say almost anything, I'm not even going that hard at his competence or integrity.

If that is so easy then there is absolutely no difficulty to do the same on the part of the prosecution, which would mean your argument that it becomes impossible to get any guilty verdict is false. You contradict yourself by saying it is terribly easy but also impossible to contradict one professional saying something for the defense.

The big problems with "the pro's" testimony, as far as the Defendant is concerned, is first, it doesn't go far enough for him.

The expert testimony goes farther than the absolute lack of authority on the field of the people that say he is wrong, that is more than enough.

It does not matter at all if anybody else wants to expose their ignorance, the important part is that the judge did it by confronting the professional opinion of an expert against his ignorance about the topic.

And if (in the part that's not in the article), the Expert indeed said that he's in a Depressed Mental State due to hypoxia

What is clearly implied in the article is that the sudden onset of Mountain Sickness can produce the accident. Else why would he be present testimony for the defense? the exact mechanism is not important, as long as he in a professional role says it is possible then his opinion can only be confronted with an opinion of the same height. Unless you can produce your own credentials on the field of neurology whatever situation you think can refute his opinion is not worth the same, once again is an invalid appeal to authority on the field.

On this point, the main problem is the Credibility of the Defendant and his Family, the assessment of which the neurologist is NOT expert in.

No, it is not. The neurologist testimony clearly contradicts the opinion of the Judge, that justifies his decision by saying that "though it was conceivable Alkonis was suffering from light mountain sickness, it was difficult to imagine he went from not feeling drowsy at all to becoming suddenly incapacitated." This is the same situation you put yourself in, making an appeal of authority in the filed of neurology without having any credentials to support it. In no point the credibility of anybody but the neurologist is important on this.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Even if neurologist testimony contradicts the judge or he has a mountain sickness making him drowsy,,, whatever, no doubt he killed innocent 2 people. It seems there is no excuse about it. He can't get away from what he has done even he/his family pay more money to victims families. He is an US Naval officer. He'd better to show them a good decency about what he has done.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Reminds me the Japanese politician that killed 2 innocent people with his car.

The prosecution was siding with the defendant, so reluctant to indict him that blamed it on the car brakes.

As expected the judge believed the prosecution and ignored any evidence that said other wise.

The Japanese "justice" system is a joke.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

@bokuda June 7 11:50 pm JST

I thought people in JapanToday wanted that guy dead and he was, eventually, found guilty. If you want that case to be analogous to this one, shouldn't you be arguing the judge should have accepted the defendant's pathetic excuse about his car brakes malfunctioning despite a lack of objective evidence?

@virusrexJune 7 10:32 pm JST

According to whom?

Yes, me. And I think that's good enough. Remember, confusion wasn't his words. It isn't in the article. You brought it up to try to explain what you think the guy argued happened to him. It was you all along on that part.

If that is so easy then there is absolutely no difficulty to do the same on the part of the prosecution

Here's what's going to happen. They get the state expert, he says something different (we'd say he does that), the judge buys his words. What are you going to say? You are going to change arguments to saying that why is the judge accepting the State expert? He's biased. He's accepting the evidence the prosecutor is giving.

As far as convincing people like you is concerned, it has no meaning because you are convinced without cause he's being deliberately railroaded by a justice system you are trained by Western media and hearsay to believe is corrupt.

What is clearly implied in the article is that the sudden onset of Mountain Sickness can produce the accident.

OK. We'd pretend that it is theoretically possible that the sudden onset of Mountain Sickeness can produce the accident. The next thing is to prove that this was what happened in the defendant's case. Or at least there is a reasonable possibility of it happening. You can't even tell from this article definitively how much the defense elicited from the neurologist. The minimum, based on this article, is exactly what's on the tin - that the neurologist believed he had "sudden" mountain sickness.

The judge can accept that it happened at one point (at 2300m, say) and extend it to the conclusion he made - which is that the mountain sickness should have decreased to insignificance by the time the Defendant got himself into that crash.

He can also accept it happened, but was not of the severity required to cause unconsciousness.

The neurologist may very well not have said anything to contradict the judge's conclusion on this point. You are assuming the judge drove over his conclusion, when you really can't tell from that one line proffered by the article. It's at least as likely the neurologist never contradicted the judge, and you just imagined the contradiction.

Finally, there is one point that the neurologist is not expert in, and that's dealing with liars. The judge can find that the Neurologist relied on the Defendant's accurate portrayal of the facts for his diagnosis, but the Defendant was not honest, thus voiding the entire testimony.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

@Kenji Shimazaki

Then they had to do a re-trial due to massive public criticism, and that's when they desisted about the brakes malfunctioning fake evidence.

But the politician still wasn't convicted, never went to jail.

The judges are just puppets on prosecutors hands.

If lieutenant Alkonis were a Japanese politician he would wont be convicted.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

We'd pretend that it is theoretically possible that the sudden onset of Mountain Sickeness can produce the accident. The next thing is to prove that this was what happened in the defendant's case.

Have you ever heard about presumption of innocence... the thing that goes by You are innocent until proven guilty.

The defendant doesn't need to prove anything.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

the Defendant was not honest, thus voiding the entire testimony.

The defendant was detained in solitary confinement for 26 days without lawyer.

Everybody will sign anything in that situation.

In that borderline torture situation you would be "dishonest" too.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

@ bokuda

Which justice system should Japan aim towards. What wonderful utopian countries should they be attempting to emulate.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

To respect the international treaties about human rights and treatment of prisoners would be a huge improvement.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Yes, me. And I think that's good enough

To say what a patient is able to do under a frequent problem of mountain sickness? no, not at all. Again it is as good as saying that if he fell unconscious he should have to just wake up.

Here's what's going to happen

Instead of making up scenarios that you guess would happen if an obvious flaw is corrected, why don't you address the argument? If according to you it is so easy to get a professional have a different opinion, how come it is contradicted based purely on ignorance? Again, it is either trivially easy to do it or it is so impossible that no convictions could ever be done, but both things at the same time only means you are contradicting yourself.

As far as convincing people like you is concerned, it has no meaning because you are convinced without cause he's being deliberately railroaded by a justice system you are trained by Western media and hearsay to believe is corrupt.

The problem is that an expert opinion is being discarded just because people without any expertise think their personal opinion hold the same value, not being able to even recognize this problem would clearly indicate who is the one so convinced that refuses to see what is happening.

 The next thing is to prove that this was what happened in the defendant's case. 

And that would be a very good thing to do, with actual arguments above "I don't think so" from a total layman, which is the only thing being used in the article.

He can also accept it happened, but was not of the severity required to cause unconsciousness.

And since he has no expertise nor authority in the topic that is worthless, specially when contradicted by someone that do have the credentials to prove that expertise and authority. That is the problem that you keep trying to dance around without even recognizing it.

The neurologist may very well not have said anything to contradict the judge's conclusion on this point.

So his diagnosis was brought by the defense just because? The article put is very clear, the judge used an invalid criteria to contradict a diagnosis (his personal opinion).

Finally, there is one point that the neurologist is not expert in, and that's dealing with liars. 

Then the court has to make it a proper argument and prove the neurologist is being fooled, that would be a long distance ahead of just saying the judge knows better about when the mountain sickness should have subsided. You are making up arguments the court have not used, that means you are recognizing the court is acting improperly even if they had arguments to follow. Why do you think this happened? because the court is so bad at their jobs that even you could do it better? or because they have access to information and evidence that would make this argument easily rebuffed and instead choose an invalid appeal to authority?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Why is he here?

There's no mention of COVID or vaccines.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

While this is a tragic accident, the man passed out with his wife and kids in the car, basically it was a medical emergency or they just like to run people over as a family. Also after a 1.6 million dollar "restitution" his sentenced should have been suspended.

He later testified to feeling sudden mountain sickness — a finding supported by a neurologist's June 2021 diagnosis — but the judge said such a sensation should have abated as Alkonis drove down the mountain.

Didn't know judges knew more than neurologists.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

A Navy spokesperson said Alkonis remains on active duty and that the Navy has provided him and his family “with the whole-person care and support they need.”

Hate to say it, but if his sentence is enforced the Pentagon will drop him like a rock. He'll get the boot if that happens.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@virusrexToday 05:59 am JST

To say what a patient is able to do under a frequent problem of mountain sickness? no, not at all. Again it is as good as saying that if he fell unconscious he should have to just wake up.

I've said it before and I'd say it again. Alkonis wasn't exactly facing conditions unfamiliar to the average person. If you've flown on an airliner, you've faced the degree of thin air Alkonis did. Along with hundreds of people around you each time. Do you get "mountain sickness" on planes so severe your mental faculties are completely blocked? If not, how do you justify your suggestion it is "frequent"? The word definitely doesn't show in the article, so you can't even appeal to authority.

Even if you are hit by VX gas, you still have a chance to whip out an atropine injector and stab it into your thigh to save yourself.

Even if your airliner suddenly depressurizes at 10000m, it is expected you'd be able to hold on for long enough to put on the drop down oxygen mask.

So, to generate reasonable doubt, you have to generate a plausible scenario where Alkonis conked out faster than if he's hit by VX gas or sudden depressurization. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. All we know the neurologist said was that Alkonis might have had "sudden mountain sickness" - it's quite likely he didn't stick his hand into the fire that much (unlike Professor Cleary, Alkonis is not a "fellow white" to him).

Then the court has to make it a proper argument and prove the neurologist is being fooled

Actually, the idea that Defendants are untrustworthy is inbuilt into Japanese law - in fact, in Continental Law. Again, the defendant is not even theoretically liable to perjury charges. The climb would actually be to show it is reasonable to assume the defendant is not lying to save his skin, when he doesn't even face a theoretical chance of being made to pay for his lies.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I've said it before and I'd say it again. Alkonis wasn't exactly facing conditions unfamiliar to the average person.

Which have absolutely no relevance to the possibility of him falling to Mountain sickness of abrupt onset, something a qualified professional said was perfectly valid. Without credentials or objective evidence that can contradict him his testimony still is the most appropriate argument about it.

how do you justify your suggestion it is "frequent"? 

Because it is, when people present mountain sickness, confusion is a frequent occurrence. It is so described in any medical material about the condition. Do you have any reference that says confusion is only something exceptionally found in patients with mountain sickness?

Even if you are hit by VX gas, you still have a chance to whip out an atropine injector and stab it into your thigh to save yourself.

For people trained for it and expecting it, which obviously do not apply to this case. The whole point is that it was not something that was realistically expected by the person that could have experienced the episode. That is all your personal assumption, that he should be expecting to get sick and react as if nothing was happening to him in order to prevent the accident. All this without any proof of expertise in the condition and while being contradicted by someone that actually have this expertise.

All we know the neurologist said was that Alkonis might have had "sudden mountain sickness" -

Yes, which would explain the accident. Against this argument the only things being offered is "From my position of ignorance, I think not" which obviously is a terribly bad argument.

Actually, the idea that Defendants are untrustworthy is inbuilt into Japanese law - in fact, in Continental Law.

And what does that have to do with discrediting the opinion of an expert? without proving he is wrong the only valid step is to accept his testimony. The judge did not argument that the neurologist was being fooled by the available testimonies, he argued that he disagreed with the diagnostic, which is irrelevant because the Judge has no expertise. If you think this argument (that the neurologist is being lied to) is necessary then you are recognizing the judge is wrong by putting his own personal unqualifed opinion as the basis for his decision.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I would like to read the sentence.

Will be fun to watch the mental acrobatics that the judge had to do to make any sense of it.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Only 3 years for 2 lives? It's already a good deal. What are you asking for more mercy for?? The criminal's family cares only about their son's career after imprisonment.

Why don't you just put pictures of the victims and their families..? Totally biased article!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Whilst it would be awful to lose a son to a 3 year prison sentence, just remember that the victims of this accident are not coming back to life. Despite the heart rendering photo in JT's promotion, these parents get their child back after a few years. How about photos of the families who lost loved ones forever?

When will people realise that cars are lethal objects. One of the first lessons that my driving instructor taught me back in the 80s. If you are responsible for the machine then you must be held accountable for accidental deaths caused by it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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