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9-year-old girl dies after being hit by truck in Tokyo's Shinagawa

56 Comments

Police said Wednesday that a 9-year-old girl died after being hit by a truck at a T-junction in Tokyo's Shinagawa Ward. Police said the accident occurred at about 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Fuji TV reported that Rei Matsuda, 9, was riding a bike and made a left turn into a one-lane road, when her bike fell over, according to witnesses. She was then hit by an oncoming 2-ton truck. She was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Police are still investigating the circumstances of the accident.

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56 Comments
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Two-ton truck on a one lane road, eh? Probably speeding, too.

Poor girl. RIP.

-10 ( +9 / -19 )

Rest in Peace to the poor girl.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Sad, but roads are very narrow and not much room for error at any speed. I hope the driver was not doing anything silly. I do see truck drivers speeding and going through red lights, wrong way in one ways, texting, calling, playing with navigation systems, not indicating but that's the same in most countries.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Difficult to say who made the fatal mistake given the lack of awareness of drivers and cyclists both. Stricter enforcement of current road laws and a broader bicycle safety education program is definitely needed.

God rest her precious soul.

S

6 ( +9 / -4 )

sigh.

It's never ending.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Is it really necessary to publicize EVERY TIME a child is killed in a traffic accident?

There's nothing to discuss.

Why put it here?

-5 ( +9 / -14 )

Johninnaha- you just answered your own question. i.e EVERY TIME IT HAPPENS. Fatal accidents involving truck drivers in Japan are in the news way to often. I've driven enough here to know all to well the scum who get behind the wheel and think nothing of speeding inches away from cars and pedestrians alike. No doubt this accident could have been avoided if the driver had the least amount of consideration. Only the most desperate Japanophile apologist would want to sweep this under the rug.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

It is all too common here for drivers, especially motorbikes and trucks, to ignore red lights/pedestrian green men, and try and drive round people or make the person legally crossing the road, run to avoid a collision.

My heart goes out to this girl, far too young to die, and what a horrific way to go. She should not have been out alone at 9 years old, anyway, let alone alone riding a bike on a busy road.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Sad story.

Let's not be so quick to demonize the driver. It's entirely possible that he was driving safely and reasonably.

This article is unclear. How fast was she going when she turned onto the road? If this was a T-intersection and the truck had right-of-way, meaning she had a stop sign then I'm sorry but the driver was not at fault.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

NeverSubmit: "Let's not be so quick to demonize the driver. It's entirely possible that he was driving safely and reasonably."

Agreed, although I believe it's pretty certain such roads were never meant to have two-ton trucks driving on them, and with such a big truck, such a small girl would probably be hard to see. An all-around tragedy. But by Japanese law he will take pretty much all of the blame regardless of who is at fault.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Most roads in Japan are way too narrow, and most drivers here drive way too fast for such narrow and crowded roads, just one recipe for accidents to happen and they do happen and this poor little girl gets killed by some idiot truck driver who is in too much of a hurry as they always are, bastards! RIP poor little 9 year old little girl from Shinagawa.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

By the way, I may agree with SmithinJapan, since most of these truck drivers are always speeding, or gabbing away on their cellphones, or texting or etc..so I do not understand why all the thumb downs, a little girl is dead, that is the only fact we know for sure now it will be up to the police to figure out what actually happened.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

This is way sad. So sad to have this happen right after school started. This will require a thorough investigation. I do know truck drivers are among the worst and most dangerous drivers around but this may sound like the driver of this truck may have not done anything wrong. Wow...sad.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

So many posters here are so quick to blame the truck driver without a clue as to whether he was speeding, texting while driving, illegally being on that road etc.

It's just as possible the girl fell over right in front of the truck after making the left turn. We should try to keep the speculation and blame game down to a minimum until more facts are made clear.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

hoserfellaApr. 11, 2012 - 03:39PM JST I've driven enough here to know all to well the scum who get behind the wheel and think nothing of speeding inches away from cars and pedestrians alike. No doubt this accident could have been avoided if the driver had the least amount of consideration. Only the most desperate Japanophile apologist would want to sweep this under the rug.

I wish there was some way to report the tailgaters in Japan. Maintaining a sensible following distance really is the minimum possible level of courtesy, and there really isn't any excuse for doing it (it's not like sitting on my tail will get them where they're going any faster!).

Despite this wherever I go in Japan I have to deal with drivers who think that 2 meters is a reasonable following distance in the rain. It's got to the point where I'm thinking of installing a sign in the back window of my car listing (in Japanese) the safe following distances for drivers in various conditions (clear, rain, snow) at 50 km/hr, because it appears that the Japanese are either ignorant or COMPLETELY inconsiderate of not only their safety, but also mine and my passengers'.

My other bugbear are drivers who pull out from convenience stores with allowing sufficient space to merge with the traffic, or even insufficient space for the other driver to slow down before hitting them. I mean really people, if you want to commit suicide then please be considerate enough to do it in private in your own apartment. Don't involve me!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Back on topic please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

About blaming the truck driver, I think it comes from our personal experience. Most truck drivers in Japan that we see are usually driving too fast and seem to be reckless. And we all know a loaded truck is heavy and requires more distance to stop.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

So many posters here are so quick to blame the truck driver

And do you know why they do this every time? You know what the common links are? Its the exact same stupidity the police use to railroad people. First step is, if anyone is dead, blame the living. Second step is, blame the bigger one. And either way, never mind other particulars. Not only could things get complicated for looking at all the details, but it won't quite resound with an emotional "Aha!" when the answer is finally sussed out. It would be less like reading an exciting novel, and more like doing dry algebra.

Its emotional nonsense from the same part of the brain that drives people to read tea leaves and roll bones. Its right brained people trying to mimic left brained thinking without actually using the left brain. It makes me ill.

The details here are not enough to determine anything completely, but enough to IMAGINE irrational stuff because the girl is dead and the man drove a big truck. And yeah, those types can't be bothered too much with the fact that the girl fell into the street.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

and she just started grade 3 .... i feel very sad reading this.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It seem japan is no longer a safe place to live like many moons ago.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

No doubt this accident could have been avoided if the driver had the least amount of consideration. Wow! Were you there? Did you see what happened? You know this for a fact?

I've seen kids here at that age not bother to look both ways and bolt onto streets - sans helmet of course - right in front of cars. Proper bike safety needs to be taught here, bikes lanes are much needed and people need to be aware of what is going on around them - drivers, bikers, pedestrians...

The driver might not be at fault at all. Yes, plenty of idiot truck drivers out there, plenty of idiot parents who haven't taught their kids kid safety. For all we know neither was at fault and this was... an accident.

-4 ( +8 / -12 )

At 9 years old, at a busy intersection, she should have been walking her bike across, with a parent next to her, or holding her hand. Very sad that she didnt have a mother or father who cared enough to ensure she got to live beyond 3rd grade.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

For all we know neither was at fault and this was... an accident.

Yes, can we please leave it at that.... unless someone really knows what happened. RIP little girl.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

At 9 years old, at a busy intersection, she should have been walking her bike across, with a parent next to her, or holding her hand.

That is what it all boils down to - there is a MASSIVE lack of basic cycling proficiency in Japan, both amongst adults and, unfortunately in this case, kids.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Orange, nine years old is certainly old enough to be out riding her bike. 3:30 in the afternoon. She could be riding home from school and on her way to a babysitter's house.

There is no need to walk your bike across any intersection is the proper care (looking both ways, go with the light) is followed. At nine, she would be mortally embarrassed to be seen getting off her bike and holding her mom or dad's hand. I highly doubt her parents didn't care enough and are probably dying a thousand deaths right now.

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

These incomplete news snippets only encourage wild speculation on what could have happened. Fatal road accidents in this country have continued to decline for more than half a century, but each death is one too many. Cyclists deserve as much respect and safety on the nation's roads as motorized traffic and it is the nation's responsibility to provide that. Cyclists don't know what they should do where. Ride on the left or on the right. How to make a turn. Ride across the road or walk. Just a few examples. Japan has succeeded in building a network of high speed rail transportation and motorways in a relatively short time. Now it is time to start working on safe cycling and pedestrian roads.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Didn't read anything in the article that would indicate the driver of the truck was at fault so I won't assume anything. As for why the article is here, I would say it demonstrates the danger of 9-year-old children on bicycles sharing the road with 2-ton trucks. That the children are allowed to do so by their parents is puzzling, especially if the truck drivers in Japan are as bad as people here claim they are.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

All we know for sure (if we trust the article) is that the girl fell on her bike and would not have died but for that. So where do speculations that the truck was reckless or speeding or texting etc. come from? The right brain. And the right brain is a dunce and not to be trusted. The left brain should have over-ridden such responses or at least led one to point out how speculative they were. But no. We get a rush to blame the truck driver from some people, and the reasons seem to be 1) because the dead "must" be "victims" of the living and 2) because he drove a vehicle larger than hers. Its the same dumb premises used by the Japanese police when accidents happen.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

nip&tuck

Both hemispheres of my brain agree with you 100%.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It seem japan is no longer a safe place to live like many moons ago

It is this very statement that can be the root cause of so much that goes wrong here. This false sense of security is what can make a driver not stop, a cyclist not check both ways, not straping in etc.. I feel for the parents and the driver. I always say that NO ONE gets up in the morning planning to do this or have this happen to them. Despite the best laid plans accidents will happen.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Considering the child had fallen from her bike on a busy intersection, used by 2 tonne trucks, I should say getting off and walking her bike across would have been a great idea. I would certainly not let my 9 year old cross such a road alone, and we definately would get off our bikes and walk them across a road like that., and if large trucks were barrelling down there I would be sure to hold her hand. But then Im careful with my 9 year old daughter, a tactic which means she is live and well and unharmed. With Japan's track record on kids getting run over, molested and the like, letting her go out alone at that age is sheer insanity.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

For those who say its just an "unavoidable accident", I wonder if and for how long you have driven in Japan. I wonder if you realize the track record of truck drivers in Japan and the size of roads in Shinagawa ward. Armchair analysts without this basic knowledge and experience are useless.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The point is still being missed here. This poor child has died as a result of an accident regardless of fault. If this truck was in Canada, USA, or any corner in the world that may or may not be 'safer' the end result is the same. More cycling education and more enforcement of traffic laws are the begining of a solution. Touting that any place is 'safer' will not bring this child back.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Agreed Mo. Thing is, nothing is being done here with regards to bike safety and education. Or at least, nothing that I see.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

tmarie: they have a spot on AFN that shows someone texting and it ends just before a family crossing the street is hit. I believe that if Japan gets tougher in what few campaigns for safety they have then maybe, just maybe we could prevent a few more tragedies such as this. We recognise that danger is danger no mater what, when, where or how. Like you, I grow weary of the this place is safer than that place argument.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You and me both with regards to the safe thing...

I know the cops came to my ele schools for bike safety. Parents are aware of the need for helmets - and is law for under 18 I believe. The whole thing needs work. They need bike lanes and better sidewalks if kids are going to bike on them. Where I live, the sidewalks are dangerous to bike on which means bikes on the roads. If bikes are going to be on the road, drivers need to learn to share. I bike to work and have had a few near death experiences - and not my fault. I am lit up like an Xmas tree, helmet, follow the road rules but many drivers don't want to share the road. I find k cars horrible for this! Mom texting, kid bouncing around, dog hanging out the window... too many distractions so she doesn't see me. The trucks are horrible for not sharing... NEVER seen a cop anyway to monitor this. Many of these deaths could be prevented!

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

Given that all Japanese schoolkids go to and from school every day by themselves, sometimes on bikes and sometimes crossing horribly busy roads, I think it is amazing that this kind of thing doesnt happen more often.

My heart goes out to her parents actually - they are only doing what every other parent here (except orange!) does. They must be devastated. I will reserve judgement on who is at fault, not knowing the facts of the case. Just that my thoughts are with her family.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

hoserfella

No doubt this accident could have been avoided if the driver had the least amount of consideration. Only the most desperate Japanophile apologist would want to sweep this under the rug.

Who's sweeping? I am questioning how you can blame the driver with the limited information provided in this article. Why make this into a Japan vs. xxxxx issue? Either the driver, the girl, the truck, or the bike are to blame. Not Japan.

Armchair analysts without this basic knowledge and experience are useless

So your idea of a good analysis is that all truck drivers are scum so they should be blamed for all accidents? I guess that's why you call yourself an 'armchair analyst'.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Situations like these always go both ways. The driver may or may not have been a careful driver no one knows. The girl may or may not have looked where she was turning.

I see drivers racing down streets they shouldnt be racing down everyday and they dont look both ways when they turn. On the other hand its the same with people on bicycles and those walking. People just walk out into the street without looking either way. There just needs to be more traffic awareness. They need to send police officers to the schools.

This is a very sad story. Its also horrible for the driver. No one could predict that.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Tahoochi - Look at johninnaha's post for my sweeping under the rug reference. You'll have to show me where I claimed this as a Japan vs the world comment as I clearly have only been critical of Japanese truck drivers.

As far as my "analysis" of Japanese truck drivers and their habits, I figure I've driven 100000Km in this country and have seen them first hand. Can you say the same? Threres an almost total lack of defensive driving on their part where accidents like this could have been avoided.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Gentlemen, gentlemen...

Both driving habits and cycling habits in this country are atrocious. The cause of the accident could definitely go either way. But again...people need to take action in order for things to improve.

S

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The amount of freedom given to children to roam free, on roads, and out of sight of parents is something you just dont see in the west. I would hope I wasnt the only foreign parent not to have "gone native" and let their children out in harms way. It is a case of very lazy parenting. Accidents like this are avoidable, if parents just put a bit of effort into supervising their children.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Her parents have no right to be devestated, Nicky, they could have supervised her and she would still be alive today.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

orange - I dont disagree with you on the parenting thing here, but please understand her parents are Japanese, not foerign, and they were doing what they believed was right according to their norms and culture. We might not agree with it, but they did not maliciously neglect their child.

It is not lazy parenting to "go native". You make judgements based on your own individual circumstances. My daughter is supervised in a group to and from school every day, on wide pavements with barriers and crossing attendants wtih flags. That does not make me a lazy parent. It makes me one that has reviewed our own individual circumstances and made a judement based on that - not anyone elses, just ours. Would I let her out unsupervised? No way. Did I allow her to walk to school alone in our old area with narrow streets, dark shady areas and no supervision. No way. But in OUR situation now, I deem our circumstances to be as safe as ifI was with her. Probably safer given that I would also have to be focusing on the other two!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Oh wow, I'm going to defend j parents (never thought I would see the day!). Orange, you have no idea what the circumstances are. Perhaps both parents work? Perhaps mom was on her way to meet her? I hope nothing ever happens to your children and everyone turns around and blames YOU the parents for being "lazy" and lacking in "effort" when raising their kid. Shame on you.

-12 ( +0 / -12 )

Readers, that ends discussion on the parents.

I am guessing from the circumstances that her bike probably skidded and tipped over on the wet road. it was raining on and off most of yesterday. She just happened to fall at exactly the wrong time, when a truck was coming.

If she was turning into a one lane road, and a truck was oncoming, she would have been cycling against the one way system. But then again what was a 2 tonne truck doing on a one lane road - are there not restrictions on heavy vehicles on narrow roads? In the wet conditions he probably would have had trouble stopping, even if he wasnt speeding. Very very tragic.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@Hoserfella (et al)

Just because a person drives a particular vehicle does NOT make them automatically the one at fault. While I'm sure you've witnessed many instances of bad driving in particular types of vehicles, you cannot tell me that EVERY driver of that type that has been in your vicinity was driving recklessly. At least not honestly, that is. You remember the bad instances because they were dangerous but your mind filters out all the drivers operating safely because there's nothing to make note of.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Plenty of trucks have to go down certain roads - no other options available. Sadly.

-13 ( +1 / -14 )

Fadamor - If I'm at the wheel of a 2 ton truck ( or any vehicle) going down a very narrow road with children around, you can bet your ass I'm going to have my head on a swivel and drive accordingly. While the driver in this case may still turn out to be technically not at fault, I'll bet my bottom dollar he could have avoided it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

orange

It is all too common here for drivers, especially motorbikes and trucks, to ignore red lights/pedestrian green men, and try and drive round people or make the person legally crossing the road, run to avoid a collision.

I don't want to comment on this particular incident (who knows what happened), but all I can say is, from experience, most drivers in Japan show very little consideration to people crossing the roads. They turn too fast and miss you by inches. Every time I cross the road on my bicycle, I just hope I don't fall over, because I could easily get run over. Back home, drivers give you plenty of space. I've been to the States - maybe it's because it's the threat of a lawsuit, drivers are careful when letting you cross the road. I suppose you could say the mainland Chinese are worse drivers but we know the Japanese like to be compared to UK/USA - and it fails miserably in that respect. Just saw someone driving with no lights on at 8pm.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

hoserfellaApr. 12, 2012 - 02:55PM JST

Tahoochi - Look at johninnaha's post for my sweeping under the rug reference. You'll have to show me where I claimed this as a Japan vs the world comment as I clearly have only been critical of Japanese truck drivers.

I see. My apologies.

As far as my "analysis" of Japanese truck drivers and their habits, I figure I've driven 100000Km in this country and have seen them first hand. Can you say the same?

I've driven enough to agree that truck drivers here are just as bad as in the US and Canada where I've also driven a fair amount... but that doesn't mean that you or I are experts at analysing motor vehicle accidents based on a 2 paragraph article.

If I'm at the wheel of a 2 ton truck ( or any vehicle) going down a very narrow road with children around, you can bet your ass I'm going to have my head on a swivel and drive accordingly....

You see, here's proof that you are very eager to jump to conclusions and speculate (in a very bias way) against any truck driver based on your personal generalizations and stereotypes. No where in the article does it state that there were 'children around'. It only mentions witnesses, but witnesses could have been people (adults) on the corner of the street that the girl turn in from, or they could have been in surrounding shops or buildings, or in other cars, standing still.... who knows? Not you.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No where in the article does it state that there were 'children around'. It only mentions witnesses, but witnesses could have been people (adults) on the corner of the street that the girl turn in from, or they could have been in surrounding shops or buildings, or in other cars, standing still.... who knows? Not you.

Tahoochi - I guess the writer of this blurb didn't feel the need to mention that there was at least 1 child around; the 9 year-old girl that was run over.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Hoserfella, there's no telling how far the girl had made it down the street when she fell. She could have fell immediately after she suddenly turned into that one lane street, giving the driver close to no time to react.... or she could have been half way down the street, giving the driver plenty of time to slow down, but even in which case, we don't know how far away the girl was from the truck when she fell. What if the truck driver actually slowed down to say 10km/hr as he saw the oncoming girl, but she fell directly in front of his truck? Literally right in front of his tires or bumper? He still wouldn't have enough time to react. I'm not denying that it could have been the driver's fault; he could have been flying down the street and this could have been prevented. Anyway, all I am saying is not you, or me, or anyone commenting here knows what truly happened, so why point fingers?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just face it, most streets in Japan are inherently dangerous because they are too narrow. No one Japan ever considered correcting the problem even when there was a golden opportunity to do so some 60 years ago.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Tragic story. :(

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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