Japan Today



Neighborhood heroes come in all sizes


Kazuki Kurino, a sumo-sized 26-year old delivery agent for the Mainichi newspaper living in Tokyo's Nerima Ward, had a well earned reputation as being a person who loves his customers. While making his rounds to collect payment he would sometimes linger on their doorstep in conversation for as long as an hour. There were even times when he'd perform chores for them such as replacing their burned out fluorescent lights.

In the impersonal city of Tokyo, reports Shukan Josei (July 14), sometimes that kind of a spirit can make the difference between life and death. One of Kurino's customers, a Mr F, who appeared in his early 70s, had constant problems with his legs.

Back in March, when Kurino, who delivers papers as part of a newspaper scholarship arrangement, had gone to collect payment at the old man's apartment, F had said to him, in a half-joking tone. "If the papers start piling up, I might be dead. That's why I always leave the door unlocked. So if it comes to that, please summon a policeman."

On the average morning, Kurino begins his rounds from around 3 a.m., delivering newspapers to some 200 households. At around 4:40 a.m. on the morning of April 16, he noticed the papers piled up in F's mailbox, and while continuing on his delivery route, a warning light seemed to flash on and off in his head.

"If he'd missed picking up just one paper, I normally wouldn't have thought anything of it, but I recalled what he's said to me back in March, about his condition. I reported my concerns to my boss."

Kurino could see through the curtains that the lights and TV were turned on, but calling F got no response. He decided intervention was warranted.

"I called the police right off," he said. "I waited about 30 minutes. At first it was just one officer, but after that paramedics arrived. Then I heard one say from inside the house, 'Ah -- he's collapsed. But he's still conscious.' After that, I left everything to the police."

In a ceremony on June 18, chief Chiaki Ishii of the Shakujii Fire Station presented Kurino with a certificate of thanks.

It was subsequently learned that F's rescue had occurred within 24 hours of his episode (details of which were not specified).

Chief Ishii pointed out that if someone had waited until the same day's evening edition, it might have been too late.

"Even though Mr Kurino was busy at his job, rather than assuming the man was all right, he contacted his supervisor and then dialed 110 for help. That was important," he said.

"The environment in which I grew up had a lot of elderly people," said Kurino, recalling growing up in his native Kagoshima. "When I was small, I would talk with them when they came to my grandmother's house."

Nerima, a mostly residential ward in the west part of Tokyo, is working hard to develop itself into a model community where neighbors look out for one another. Last year, it announced the formation of an "Elderly Lookout Cooperative Network," by which workers from 25 participating organizations, including utility companies, parcel delivery services and others are encouraged to report any concerns over elderly residents to a dedicated call center, police or the fire department.

"We should aim for two-way communications, so that along with our department keeping watchful, we are supported by people who look after each other," fire chief Ishii tells the magazine.

Indeed, as Kurino's shining example shows, when it comes to safeguarding lives, the most effective method is for people to take a little extra time to talk to each other.

© Japan Today

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Kudos to Kazu. Glad "Mr F" is okay.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Well done!

Back in March, when Kurino, who delivers papers as part of a newspaper scholarship arrangement,

26 year old man on a scholarship from the newspaper? Are they trying to be cutesy here? If the man has a disability then say it, it makes the story even more heartwarming!

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

It was subsequently learned that F’s rescue had occurred within 24 hours of his episode (details of which were not specified).

I know it's a little early and my brain may not yet be fully engaged but what does that mean?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

It means that whatever happened to F (collapse? heart attack?) had happened in the time period between his rescue, and 24 hours prior to that.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

delivers papers as part of a newspaper scholarship arrangement

I had never heard of a "newspaper scholarship" before so had to look it up. Here is a link to a Wikipedia entry on the program (新聞社の奨学金制度): https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%96%B0%E8%81%9E%E5%A5%A8%E5%AD%A6%E7%94%9F

It is simply a program where the newspaper company pays all or some of a student's tuition in exchange for the student working as a newspaper delivery person while in school.

It doesn't sound like much of a "scholarship" though. The newspaper delivery firms use the system to ensure a consistent workforce, given that these "newspaper scholarship students" can't easily quit mid stream.

The Wikipedia entry says there have been some instances where some of these students have been subject to slave-like working conditions.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The 'scholarship' students are worked hard. They usually get room and board and meals as well as tuition but they have to not only deliver papers but also spend time adding the supplement pages to newspapers and preparing their deliver. They don't sleep much and have to squeeze in study. The system does chew up students because if you quit you have to pay back the scholarship, I believe. Nice to read that someone is looking out for people.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This is his childhood environment which taught him to be concerned about others, This what happen when you live in a close family system you learn the importance of others and you also learn how to response, i liked the way he reacted, he informed his office and then the police. even as a customer and in business dealing, frequent meeting create a human connection, which should be prevailed and should be utilize for more homarny, simpathy and help.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is Japan so I expected the news delivery system to differ from back home - but sounds like other posters never worked when they were in school! Teenagers in my days (in my case I wanted to buy that chemistry kit because my dad was an idiot who forbade me from owning one) earned pocket money, and the handy way for early risers was to deliver newspapers... BTW Yubaru assumption of someone aged 26 possibly having a disability because he is on a "newspaper scholarship" is quite offensive don't you think? Some people do need to go to work right after high school, save up for college and even then be in need of tuition money - like, some people's dads don't cover for higher degrees...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is a good story to end the day on. Thanks for being a decent human being, Kazuki Kurino.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In Chicago, where most people have no air conditioning, a terrible heat wave carried off many people...but not many black or Latino people because they call family members and neighbors every day. Some cultures do that as a matter of course. I'm happy the paper here spotlights someone who gives us all a reminder of what's truly important in life!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Antman is more my size.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Genuinely nice guy... but really, what does his size have to do with anything?

0 ( +0 / -0 )


I'd say it has to do with trying to promote a kind of tubby, smiley John Candy-like figure in the reader's mind.

That's what I pictured, anyway.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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