The Kyoto District Court on Tuesday sentenced a 19-year-old youth to 5-8 years in prison for killing three and injuring seven after he drove his car into a group of elementary school children and some adults in Kameoka, Kyoto Prefecture, on April 23, 2012.
The defendant, who cannot be named because he is a minor, was 18 at the time and had no driver's license.
Yukihi Matsumura, 26, who was seven months pregnant, Mao Odani, 7, and Nao Yokoyama, 8, were declared dead several hours after the crash, which happened at around 8 a.m. as the children were being taken to school. Matsumura’s unborn baby also died in the accident.
According to police, the children and Matsumura were walking along the side of a curved one-way road when the minicar failed to make a left curve and plowed into them.
The court heard that the driver and his two passengers had been joyriding since the previous night. The driver admitted to police that he dozed off at the wheel.
The driver’s two passengers — two 18-year-old youths — were also arrested because they knew their friend did not have a driver’s license and did nothing about it. They are awaiting trial.
Prosecutors had called for the driver to be jailed for 10 years, the maximum sentence for a minor charged with negligent driving resulting in death. However, the presiding judge said the defendant had shown remorse, TBS reported.
After the trial, relatives of the victims held a press conference and expressed outrage at the lenient sentence and questioned the purpose of a judiciary system that imposes such a light sentence on someone guilty of taking three lives, TBS reported. The relatives wanted the charge to be one of reckless driving resulting in death, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. However, dozing off while driving is not considered reckless driving by the law.© Japan Today
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cost of human life going down, seems deflation is real in Japan :(
Not nearly enough, though he will have to live with the ghosts of the dead for the rest of his life.
This law needs to be changed, now. Someone who gets behind the wheel of a car while exhausted is perhaps the most reckless of all.
This sentence is far too short for a tragic murder of 4 people, whether the guy was a minor or not.
A minor ! If he's old enough to go to prison, then he isn't a minor. I imagine the husband of the pregnant wife slain, or the parents of the school kids feel devastated, knowing that this chav has just a few years in prison and can go about his life in anonymity ......whilst the victim's lives were tragically cut short.
I generally admire the strictness of the Japanese law and could only hope that people in Australia get this kind of penalty for the same crime. Recently, people have been getting 5 years for murder here - it has become a land of apologists combined with a legal system shamelessly exploited by defense law. Japan has it right.
Kimuzukashiiii - I agree! Dozing off while driving IS reckless driving!!
The sentence should be 5-8 years PER life taken....
Reading the headline, I imagined a 15- or 16-year-old. 19 is hardly youth, and definitely should be adult.
At the very least it should be 8 years for each life he took, including the baby inside Matsumura san.
5-8 years for killing 2 very young children and a young mother carrying a baby. What a disgrace! Seems the 'justice' system has failed again!
He had no driver's license and they were joyriding - it makes no difference if he was sleeping or not.
5-8 years for killing 3 people in this situation isn't enough. This is embarrassing and sad.
show remorse? That is not a reason for compassion... in the old days.. they would not put him in jail at all.. just let relatives take care of things... or if he had any honor.. he would take his own life to show true remorse.
Joyriding without a drivers license NOT reckless??? Did I miss something here? If he was 18, why didn't he have a license?
Joyriding (therefore stolen car?), driving without a license - all night - and then dozing off at the whel. All this is not considered reckless??! Those poor poor victims and their families. I share their anger.
And by the way JT FOUR people died, not three. She was 7 months pregnant. That baby could have survived on its own. Please dont discount the babys death.
Wow, two years for each person, what a joke Japanese law is! He doesn't even have a license! That lone should get him 5-8 years, then, minimum 10 years per victim giving him 45 years in prison.
JT needs to get their facts straight as others have mentioned, she WAS pregnant!!!
No Miso - we are in agreement yet again. 8 years for every life including the babys. I dont care if he showed remorse. That is nice, but nothing more. Shouldnt affect the sentence, but here it does, which is why so many who get busted throw themselves on the ground sobbing and apologising (or go on national TV and squeeze out tear or two).
How come the emotional state of the victims is not allowed to affect the sentence, but the emotional state of the criminal IS?
another irritating news. just goes to prove once again on the low values that Japan has when it comes to life!
Young men make mistakes. It happens. Peer pressure sometimes a major factor. I think the judges decision was fair. This event in his life will change him forever.
I hope that he can find God and work on cleansing his soul. He should focus on taking responsibility for his actions. It's impossible to recover the loss of life. It's impossible to make amends with the families. He can however make things right with God.
He can devote his life to a higher purpose instead of wasting it as he was. My prayers are with him. I must believe we can change, we can recover.
chibachick!! was gonna say the same thing..the baby!!!
Ah, and here when they were talking about harsher sentences for MINORS the other day things were starting to look up. Then this. So a human life (not taking into account the unborn baby) is only worth 1.5 years or so even if you're just joy-riding with no license and doze off.
I guess 'dozing off' is more par for the course in this nation than it is 'wreckless driving', eh? I hope this moronic judge never has to learn something like this the hard way like all the families of the victims did. I hope said families keep protesting and lashing out at the ridiculous leniency of this sentence. The 'minor' deserves a minimum of 20 years.
An excellent idea FPSRussia. I hope he finds God soon too. Sooner the better really. Im sure the families feel the same.
He can regret it for the rest of his life, but ultimately - he DID it. IF he feels true remorse - let that be his punishment in addition to this pathetic sentence. I would rather they gave him a proper sentence then monitored him over the years and considered cutting it shorter IF he showed genuine remorse, attempted to do what he could to make amends etc.
But 5-8 years (1.25-2 years per life taken!) is shocking.
How does this sentence keep the "wa" in the community? Oh, wait he was 18 so not yet an "adult" :(
We have got the facts straight. The story clearly states that the woman was pregnant.
Nothing to do with JT. The law only recognizes three deaths in this case.
I think the judgement was very fair considering. When looking at crimes and punishment we should look at it without emotion or judgement is blurred and tainted as we can see from some of the posts here. The judge hands down justice not revenge. People asking for a very lengthy sentence want revenge not justice, the max for this crime is 10 years, the judge had info we do not have such as background, education and family environment of the offender.
considering that in the UK "life" is 7 seven years [are we deerhounds?]–then of you're good they let you out even earlier, because of overcrowding–Japan is not that lax methinks. since he's a minor he'd probably just get a pat on the shoulder if he was in the UK. the US would probably lock him up far longer though. paese che vai usanza che trovi...
Yes, we should. But when the judge is handing down more lenient sentences because the guy is "showing remorse" then why shouldnt other peoples emotions be taken into account? Why does the perpetrator only get afforded that luxury - the one person who DOESNT deserve such a concession?
Oh now come on, not just a pat on the shoulder. Theyd also take him on an adventure holiday and go-karting to "build up his self esteem"!
He is the only person being tried so of course the judge will take everything into account. People waste too much time getting angry over things rather than being rational.
This is an excellent point, thank you for mentioning it.
These poor families have been trying to recover from this tragedy for a year, and this lenient sentence is only going to make the process that much more difficult for them. No one here is calling for "revenge", that would be calling for a death sentence, or life without possibility of parole. But if NONE of the victims' families feel that justice has been done, can we really say it has?
Horrible to say but too bad the judge's kin weren't victims. Maybe then we'd see real justice meted out. This decision is way too lenient for the taking of 3 or 4 lives due to joyriding and sleeping at the wheel. Hope the victims families can appeal this for a harsher sentence.
So the fact that he could get longer in prison would make the victims families feel better. Bad logic which does nothing to aid the healing. They shuold and the people around them should be looking to build on their lives and there should be support for that. Feeling bitterness does nothing to help anyone at all, you see so many times victims families in th doldrums fighting for more severe sentences etc instead of getting on with their lives. Do they think their loved ones want them to feel like that.
BTW, i had someone very close murdered in front of me in 1995 and i have barely though about the piece of dirt that did that.
Some say his punishment is not harsh enough, should we really judge using our emotions? There is no way to recompense anyone for the loss of life, will harsh punishment bring back that which is lost? Do we say that Japan does not respect life because it is only 1.5 years per person? This argument is not logical, is 10 years per life enough and at the same time making someone else's life useless? I have an alternative view which is never considered. Instead of throwing the book at him, Why not give so many years of incarceration with so many years of community service to pay back the debt to society. The grief of those who have been harmed by this tragedy shall never go away and prisoners can get comfortable in prison as they adjust to prison life. Why not make them work and pay to the families whom they have hurt so badly? Some just want punishment what about truly trying to make amends?
manslaughter should be tried as adult - cause he wanted to be one, death penalty I say
Vigilante: Merriam-Webster Definition: a self-appointed doer of justice.
Wouldn't surprise me in this case.
Killing two children and a pregnant woman in such a reckless way, as if they were dogs on the street. How terrible, he deserves the death penalty in my opinion so that it can serve as a wake up call for others.
Geez....5-8 years??? You get more time for bank robbery don't you???
What a sad and pathetic way to throw away your life.
they said that the husband of the pregnant victim is petitioning for changing the law regarding dozing off while driving. I wish him success, and I really can't imagine the pain he has been and will probably always be in. He also objected to news saying 3 victims, without counting his 7 months unborn baby. As The Chronic said, I wouldn't be surprised if he tries something.
That's true, timeon. They have already gotten over 300,000 signatures. I support the family wholeheartedly.
Dozing off at the wheel is not considered reckless by law? They have to be kidding! This goon should have been charged with three counts of vehicular manslaughter, reckless driving, unlicensed driving and causing injury while unlicenced. He should have received 5-8 years for each death! His mates in the car with him should also be facing charges. This ruling sux! And, if I was a family member of one of those who got cleaned up by this hoon I would be fuming!
Sadly - true. If this man had of committed an economic crime - a big fraud for example - he would have copped 15-20 as per usual in Japan. As it stands, this selfish, reckless individual will be free by the time he is 23.
Rest in Peace to the four innocent victims. I support their families' call for justice and for the laws to be updated to meet the communities' wants.
I feel for the families of the 4 victims here. It is a senseless tragedy. At 18, one would expect reasonable judgement skills. I assume in Japan, that an 18 year old is still a minor, however, the ability to see right from wrong is instilled and well understood by this age. Unfortunately, laws, not only in Japan, but all around the world, have many variances and loop holes such as the fact that "dozing off at the wheel is not considered reckless by law". This ruling would not have brought any form of comfort for the family members left behind. 5 - 8 years, in my opinion, does not even repay the debt for 1 life, let alone 4 (as I count the unborn baby as a life regardless of the view point of the law). anyone with reasonable judgement skills would assume that driving around all night would bring on fatigue, thus becoming a danger on the road to the general public and themselves. The fact that this 18 year old male chose to drive all night thus falling asleep would show a level if intent, thus making the accident premeditated manslaughter. However the law doesn’t see it that way. Pity, yes. once again, my condolences to the families of these poor victims.
I am very sorry to hear this. The young man should be locked up for much much longer or even executed as a clear message. I cant believe that a murderer would be so lightly punished. He was responsible and was clearly speeding to leave the road and kill so many tragically. I cant believe this story, it is appalling. There needs to be some changes to the justice system.
The worst news I have ever read, he gets 5 years for killing so many and less time because he said he was sorry. There should be NO reduced time because you cry and bow.
10 years is not even enough for this scum bag
I thought Japan is stricter. Only 5 years for this?
He should of got 5 years for each person he killed, WITH hard labour! Japans justice system is proven again to be a very forgiving joke!
Even though I think this joker has done something horrible, I ultimately agree with you 100%. It is very easy to sit in front if your computer and demand harsher punishments, but just like you say, JT posters hardly have all the facts.
If the perp sits the whole 8 years, that is a pretty long time. I can definitely feel for the families - i'd be crushed but in the end, modern society needs a fuctioning justice system and not vigilantes and revenge.
And I'm with you. When you're nineteen, eight years is hell of a long time. And the dead aren't coming back, no matter how much he suffers. If it were my own family, I really hope I'd be able to see it the same way. Revenge, despite what Hollywood tells us, is merely a prolongation of misery.
if this is really the worst news you've ever read, you've had a very sheltered upbringing....
He should have been tried as an adult. Probably the last point where I will agree with the mob here.
Even so, I would say that all told, five years is about right. However stupid and careless he was, it was NOT his intention to fall asleep at the wheel. It was NOT his intention to hit people, or even a light pole. He himself could have died!
However many people he accidentally killed, it was still just one accident! How many joyriders never have an accident? How many have accidents with not even one injury? His carelessness cannot be denied, but neither can his sheer bad luck. What sense does it make to punish for bad luck? None!
Punish him for what he did on purpose. That was to steal a car, to drink and drive and stay up all night riding around and very well knowing he was taking a risk, yes, a risk. He drove while sleepy and fatigued, and in the end, that is what REALLY caused the accident. But still, he had no idea what the actual outcome would be at the time and neither would any of us.
lol...japan, your funnay
YOUTH?? 19?? In other countries 19 is already an ADULT, too bad Japan does not realize this, and prosecute this scum like an ADULT and give his no good rotten butt, the death penalty!
Is that all? For taking 4 lives?
The stupid prat never had a licence, so I have no sympathy for him at all... you steal a car, you kill people... pay the price. At 19 he should be tried as an adult.
He broke the bloody law! Bad luck? Joyriders are a scourge on the roads everywhere, and this could happen again anytime. Bad luck my arse.
Would you still say that if it was your wife and unborn child he killed? How can anyone sympathise with the little snot? He should have the book thrown at him. Lock the bugger up for 20-25 years at least.
Study after study have shown that Irving sleepy is as bad to worse than driving drunk. Laws need to catch up!
Its difficult, because no-one intends to have an accident but, he DID intend to drive illegally, and apparently so for up to 30 hours before the accident. This is reckless, illegal, and completely unacceptable in society. He needs to be punished, and the thought of the minimum 5 years grates on ears, when you can be jailed for 2 years for downloading an illegal film or MP3. There has to be some justice here. He made a stupid mistake, he needs to serve time for that.
I was wondering what the worthless excuse for a human was going to get. Dropped out of school after middle school, caught by police in the past riding motorbikes without a licence. A Yanki NEET. Joyriding in someones car all night and then wipes out 2 little kids and a pregnant woman. Achieved nothing in his pitiful life and then through his utter selfishness wipes out 4 young innocent people and gets a 5 to 8 year holiday? there is no justice.
There is no redemption for this scrote. Volunteering to clean up at the Fukushima Nuclear plant for 5-8 years. Being force to help the Rebuilidng a the tsuman ravaged area to his hands and soul bleeds. Perhaps then he might be making some progress to redemption. A holiday in prison and then come out to what as a even more worthless 25 year old? pathetic.
He was coached by his defense team in other words. Kudo's for the defendants lawyers. Believe it or not, there are Japanese lawyers and Amnesty International defending youths to not be executed. It's not positive for society even though the minors kill people. I'm just the messenger.
BTW, I hope he roasts in hell. Imagine him heaved into everlasting fire, howling and screeching.
In the U.S., he would have been an adult even back when he crashed into those people.
It's obvious that the reason he's getting such a light sentence is because he's considered a "minor" until he reaches age 20. This, in my humble opinion, is the biggest failure in the Japanese justice system. If your age is such that your peers are in college, then you are an adult. It's ludicrous to call people old enough to be in college "minors".
The fact he had no licence and was careless are only circumstances of the main event, which is a traffic accident in a dangerous street. That he gets aggravating circumstances is normal. But he is still judged for a traffic accident. If he had done the same with a valid license and driving "fresh" on his way to work, he'd get a suspended sentence. So he does not get "x years per victim", he gets "5 to 8 years" for driving without a license and provoking 1 accident. And 5 years, that's more than 1/4 of his life so far. That's not little.
And would say you deserve how many years of jail if YOU had provoked a car accident ? I mean any accident when your car leaves the road. So tell me the penalty bracket without knowing the number of victims, please. Because then, the size of the tragedy will depend on your luck that day.
Penalties don't cumulate as he did his crime only once. If your car leaves the road into an empty field, lucky, no victims. If it is into a railway at the worst moment, and you make a train get out of rails, you can make thousands of victims including babies in the womb. But in both case, that's still the same driver with the same intention (or lack of), acting the same way.
Because that's the trial of the criminal. How to punish and reform him. That's not the trial of the victims. They are not forgotten. Besides, there is another court for the "damages", and it's there that the penalty is proportional to the number of victims and the extent of their loss. And they can also become eligible for assistance financial, medical, psychological and that will depend on their state.
Well, let's gain time, say it will be death penalty for anyone caught driving without a valid license or for driving tired. That's what you mean ?
Thank you so much for this post. you've said everything I think and feel about this whole episode perfectly. It's just that when I try and make a comment, I get all irrational. This is cool, clear and obvious to anyone with any real empathy.
No. I would murder him with my bare hands then toss myself from a bridge. I guess in your world those actions would be made correct by my state of grief? Sorry, but that is not how justice works.
Who said anything about sympathizing? Speaking for myself, I was talking about fairness and justice. If he got run down crossing the street on his way to court I would not send flowers. Believe me, this is nothing to do with sympathy.
This is a very tragic loss to all families involved. My prayers and sympathies go out to the ones injured, killed, families of the injured and killed, and also the young man who was behind the wheel. For he had no intention of doing this.
So... if you want to get away with murder just fall asleep as your doing it?
This 19 year old scum should and WILL burn in hell for all of eternity! How stupid can anybody to have any sympathy for this worthless, wagamama, little brat who after killing these people, kept talking on his cellphone!! Yes, he kills, most likely was drunk, and also blabbing away on his keitaidenwa, and keeps on talking like as if nothing happened?? Let this scum burn in hell!!
@steve - you may be missing your own point.
drink/drive/sleep deprivation are all known to kill and as a combination it is lethal (just sleep deprivation is enough). It is definitely a risk. He knowingly took that risk (for which he should be punished) AND he killed 4 lives, for which he should also be punished. Had he not killed anyone, 5-8 years would be appropriate because the risk is so high of killing someone that he needs to understand the consequences of his actions. What's unfair or unjust about that?
@ Elbuda Mexicano. He is forgiven of his sins and we know not of his salvation. Under what basis do you have for condemning someone when you know not of the person himself and the situation first hand.
Wow! What a light sentence Likely murder of the first degree...especially in light of relatively heavy sentences handed out for so many other offenses (like stealing a small amount of money from a temple, etc.)!
OK not in the first degree, but still too light...at least 10 years.
Urrrgghh careless idiots.
And just 10year punishment. Seriously, 10years??? The people they killed wont be revive for the rest of time. The parents/husband of those who lost special someone would feel devastated everyday.
Gawd... what's with the youth nowadays.
Better be Otaku's and trap yourself inside your own shell than try to be socializing and just end up killing someone. Geeezz
3 dead plus the pregnant woman total in 4 ... why on hell the sentence was 5 to 8 years only? this is ridiculous ???? where is the justice here!
No locking him down, why we need to pay for those scumbags ... those are the absolute garbage of society and did everything clearly knowing it all was wrong, they should be executed to send a clear message ( yea all of them )
Yeah Alex and lets put to death all criminals, yeah, that sounds great yeah? Those scumbags should die slowly and maybe show it live on tv for your pleasure.