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4-year-old boy killed after car crashes into traffic light pole

31 Comments

A four-year-old boy was killed after the car he was riding in crashed into a traffic light pole in Satsuma, Kagoshima Prefecture, police said Thursday.

According to police, the accident occurred at around 3 p.m. Wednesday. Fuji TV reported that there were six passengers in the car, including two children. The car was driven by Saori Takimoto, 27. She and four other passengers suffered serious injuries, while her 4-year-old son Takeshi, who was sitting on an adult passenger's lap, was thrown out of the vehicle by the impact. He was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead about two hours later, police said.

Police quoted witnesses as saying the car first hit a guardrail and then the traffic light pole.

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31 Comments
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The car was driven by Saori Takimoto, 27.

Although a very young, inexperienced mother, she shouldn't have neglected the safety of her 4 yr old son.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Seatbelt? Age-appropriate child seat? Japan is inexplicably decades behind in the correct and consistent use of these utterly basic and extremely necessary pieces of equipment. Can anybody explain why?

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Can anybody explain why?

Because they've never had safety campaigns and regulation the same way here as in other countries.

Hopefully an incident like this will move forward thinking in those regards.

Sad story, especially since it was a preventable death.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Wonder why Japan is so behind when it comes to basic car safety liek seatbelts. In France there was a massive crackdown on that 30 years ago, and nowadays you can still be sure that police won't miss a chance to fine you 90 euros and remove points on your licence (0 points and your licence is revoked) if you or your passengers don't have a seatbelt attached, no negociations. Guess the "Sorry officer, I won't do it again" "Fine for this time, you can go" attitude in Japan doesn't help.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

A horrible, preventable tragedy that has cost the person who had no control over the situation his life. What a terrible, terrible heartbreaking waste.

To be honest, I am surprised we don't see more stories like this. We all know that when it comes to young children in cars in Japan, particularly for short journeys near home, people can be very lax with seatbelts and child sears. And this is probably only accentuated in less urban areas, where there is an assumption that nothing will happen on those short trips.

6 people in a car. I hate to speculate, but let's throw out a scenario. Undoubtedly probably only designed for 5. Probably 2 adults in front, 2 in back, one child in the middle, and Takeshi on the lap. Given that it happened at 3 p.m., probably just after yochien finished for Takeshi. So, maybe a pickup from yochien and going to the store. Or something like that. And Satsuma is not exactly a huge city and is a little bit rural, so probably a pretty relaxed attitude about things like car safety and the like.

It probably didn't even cross the mother's mind that she was taking a risk, that's the scary part. Probably just a normal practice for many.

RIP, Takeshi.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I see it in traffic every day. I also see cops in the same traffic, therefore they must see it, too, and do nothing about it. If they were routinely enforcing this law, there would be a lot fewer parents breaking it.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

If they were routinely enforcing this law, there would be a lot fewer parents breaking it.

What law?

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Ignorance can be cured, but stupidity cannot! I'm that every person posting in this thread has seen kids unrestrained in cars. My personal favorite bout of stupidity is the new mother nursing her baby in the front seat while papa drives impervious to what would happen to his baby in an accident. Then, there are the little kids' faces on the windscreen of the mini-van while mama scoots along running red lights. I am surprised these kinds of accidents don't happen more often. RIP little fella. You mum is an idiot!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

RIP little boy. On the safety matter - it is already 15 short years since the rear seat belts are also mandatory. When I lived close to my Japanese parents in law no matter how many times I have reminded them it is obligation to put the seat belt on the kids in the back seat my mother in law never did! And she loves her grandchildren and was big help for us. I can not imagine if something have had happened then. Now kids are grown up - there was some time they got used to put their seat-belts but I still have to remind them to do it nowadays. Their mother never does and I guess they ride with her without the belts. Just pray nothing bad to happen but I already have given up on so many of my principles.... Just that this one might cost a life...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The law is that everyone in the car HAS to be in seat belts. Babies are required by law to be in baby seats as well. There are many campaigns here pushing seat belt safety. Japan is not behind any other countries in this respect and they will give you a ticket for anyone who is not seat belted. They are always standing around ticketing people for violations of this kind.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

@Strangerland,

What law?

The Road Traffic Control Law (or maybe the proper translation is the Road Traffic Act) was amended in 2000 to make it mandatory for all children under 6 to be in child safety seats.

However, I have read that according to a survey conducted in 2013 by the National Police Agency and Japan Automobile Federation, the rate of a child safety seat use is 60.2% and 2 out of 3 parents use a child safety seat the wrong way.

Obviously an issue in Japan.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The law is that everyone in the car HAS to be in seat belts. On the safety matter - it is already 15 short years since the rear seat belts are also mandatory.

Only 7 years. The law came into effect in 2008.

Yes, but there is more to it than that:

The imposition of penalties is limited to violators on expressways

Link: http://www.ehow.com/about_5427280_seat-belt-laws-japan.html

So how can the police be blamed for not enforcing a law, that was written to not have any enforcement?

I agree this is a problem, but putting the blame on the police is misplaced. The blame needs to be on the legislators.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

If they were routinely enforcing this law, there would be a lot fewer parents breaking it.

What law?

Playing the faux naïf is quite unbecoming. The law stipulates that children must be restrained, and is blatantly flaunted, en masse.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

They do enforce it here at times. The cops are hiding in the weeds roadside radioing ahead to other officers the cars that have unbelted occupants. But this only seems to occur during "safety" months and even then you will see tons of cars with unbelted children in them. It pisses me off every time I see it.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

"six passengers in the car... two children... her 4-year-old son... thrown out of the vehicle... dead"

RIP Takeshi-kun!!:-(

1 ( +1 / -0 )

a child has died and many of you are ranting against japanese culture? really? no where in the story does it state that a seatbelt wasn't used. you do know that a seat belt can go around two people, don't you? and seat belts reduce the chance of death by only 50%(http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/seatbelts/facts.html). so even when buckled up, half the time a person could die.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

Playing the faux naïf is quite unbecoming. The law stipulates that children must be restrained

I don't disagree. My point is that the person who originally brought it up was criticizing the police for not enforcing the law, but the law itself is written to not have any enforcement (except on expressways), so the police can't be held to blame for not doing something they don't have the power to do.

They do enforce it here at times.

Enforce what? The law doesn't have any provisions for someone who doesn't follow it on regular roads.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

nakanoguy01Nov. 05, 2015 - 05:00PM JST a child has died and many of you are ranting against japanese culture? really? no where in the story does it state that a seatbelt wasn't used. you do know that a seat belt can go around two people, don't you? and seat belts reduce the chance of death by only 50%

Not sure whether you're trying to be funny, but I'll humour you. Seat belts don't work as intended even if you manage to wrap them around two people. At best one would cushion the other, but more likely both would get displaced and likely maimed by the belt itself. A belt wasn't used (properly) in this accident because as you can read, the child was ejected from the vehicle after being cradled by another person. Additionally your statistics quote is wrong, as all cars currently sold have airbags, which are not efficient unless airbags are used. Finally, as four of six (!) occupants in the car suffered "serious injuries" despite this apparently being a medium speed accident, it's not unreasonable to assume no one in the vehicle used seat belts and were likely harmed by the airbags themselves.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

When I'm driving, the car doesn't move until everyone puts on their seat belt. I just wish my stepdaughters would do the same when they're driving my grandkids around. No matter how much I pester them, they still do it unless I'm there making sure.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I don't know why it is written for expressways? Relative driver was fined for not wearing sit belt in a city (the usual going just 500m from the departo to the kominkan and got caught). It was something like 15000 yen. Same is for not stopping on Stop signal, etc. Fines are relatively high and once burned people tend to drive more carefully.

I find problem with police that they tend to do those checks in a places where they don't interfere with the high traffic. I imagine what it will happen if they try to enforce the law on a busy crossing in pick hour - hundreds are crossing on red, etc. - they have to stop them and occupy one lane thus forming huge traffic jam. I guess police have instructions not to do that so we see so little impact on the heavy offenders...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

What a waste of a young life. Almost certain death could have been prevented with a seatbelt.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I was just doing some digging on the penalties for not using child seats. Appears that you can get 1 point on your license, but in many cases you just receive a warning. There don't appear to be fines.

Clearly something that should be taken more seriously.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In addition to the lack of seriousness about car safety, I also wonder about people bicycling around with a baby in a baby bag. I see this constantly and I always wonder if this is as dangerous as it looks.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

a child has died and many of you are ranting against japanese culture? how is road safety against Japanese culture!? scientifically proven you have much high chance of survival in a high speed crash wearing a seat than not. Just today like almost everyday im driving I see kids standing in the back seat or not wearing a belt. even slower speeds like 30kph the sudden stop by impacting an object can do serious injury to adults especially children if you not wearing a belt. doesnt matter how safe a driver you think you are, it only takes that idiot drive to run that red light in front of you and your toast without a belt. I was in a big accident in 2004 christmas eve, I was driving the speed limit at 50kph, the driver racing in the opposite lane lost control and slammed head on into us about 90kph. luckily we were wearing seat belts. the force of the crash made my right knee smash into the steering column cracking my knee cap, my left hand was on the gear stick at the time, snapped the gear stick clean off also bruising the tendons in my left wrist. The seat belt while it worked I still managed to hit my face on the steering wheel (no airbag) giving me a bloody nose but thankfully not broken. I came out fine all thing considering, My wife got six broken ribs and a bruised kidney causing some slight internal bleeding but not serious. If we hadnt had our belts on we would be dead, if there was a child standing in back seat it would be dead either in the windscreen or probably through it on the roadway in front. I know first hand that seat belts save lives. So if your a parent with kids make sure you and your kids are wearing F seatbelts every F time you get in a car!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@wtfjapan - "if there was a child standing in back seat it would be DEAD... through [the windscreen] on the road"

Sometimes some people need things spelling out for them...

Well done to you for reporting it!!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

There's this mistaken notion that if I see an accident coming and I hold on to a child sitting in my lap real tight, he'll be fine.

Having been in a few collisions myself, I know that most of the time, it happens too fast, and the force is too great, for the adult to do any good in such a case.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

When I'm driving, the car doesn't move until everyone puts on their seat belt.

Indeed. And what a lot of people don't think about is that, in the event of an accident, anyone in the car not wearing a seat belt becomes a missile traveling at the same speed that the car was moving.

When a passenger scoffs at my demand to buckle up ("even in the backseat??"), I remind them of that I don't want a ticket or them killing me.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"anyone in the car not wearing a seat belt becomes a missile traveling at the same speed that the car was moving"

And there were SEVEN people in this car... :-(

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Strangerland - I did some research on the subject and what I was able to find was that as of 2010 the laws have changed as it pertains to seatbelts. The officer has a choice to either ticket the driver or just give them a warning if they have passengers who are not wearing them. As for the expressways, it is mandatory and they must be ticketed. Children under six have to be in seatbelts or the driver must be ticketed. That is the law. I will admit that I was a little surprised about how much gray area there is in this situation because the building I work at on the weekends in Yokohama is a very popular tourist place and the police at always ticketing people there for not using seatbelts.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sandie - can you give a link to that? Everything I found only spoke of changes in 2008, and that there were no penalties if the incident was not on the expressway.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I am thinking that he was killed DURING the crash, not after.

The headline makes me wonder... wow... who would kill a 4 year old boy? A frustrated driver? Road rage?

But anyway, I have personally been saved by a seatbelt in a crash. Buckle up everybody. And slow down.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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