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Father, daughter, 5, thrown out of car after accident on Kyushu expressway; girl dies

46 Comments

A 5-year-old girl was thrown out of the car she was traveling in on the Kyushu Expressway and was then hit by a car behind, killing her on Thursday. Naoki Tachibana, 19, was driving along an expressway in Dazaifu City at 3 p.m. when his car hit the guard rail on the left side of the road and his father, Masahiro, 53, and younger sister, Kaede, 5, sitting in the back were thrown from the vehicle. Masahiro survived with minor injuries but Kaede was hit by an oncoming vehicle, and died shortly after.

Fukuoka police believe the pair may not have been wearing seatbelts. They also said the road was straight at the scene of the accident, but that snow had fallen intermittently on Thursday. The road between the Dazaifu and Chikushino interchanges was closed for about three hours after the accident.

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When will they learn to buckle up their kids? I see it every time I drive, mini vans with kids free to run around the interior. The father may face charges as he failed to use a child seat no doubt.

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Wow, tragic indeed. I think a lesson has been learned here, however it is to late. :(

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Seat-belts schmeat-belts, right Japan?

I can't begin to count the number of times I've been told "Don't worry about it, you're OK in the back" when looking for the seat belt when getting in the back of cars here. (Silly me, I never listen and always buckle up.)

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Seat belts save lives! When will these people learn? Click-clack front and back! The lack of care and irresponsibility of most Japanese drivers is appalling! It has been law for six months to wear seat belts in the back seat, but I still see kids jumping around in the back seat of cars. Once again, I b lame the apathy of the J-cops for not having the vigilance to back their so-called 'law'. Another preventable death for the J-Cops. That's three this week. "Otsukade sama!"

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Ummm.... they 'believe' they weren't wearing seat belts?? Seems pretty obvious to me that they weren't, and while this guy is really suffering now, I'm sure, I hope he's locked up for manslaughter.

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the father, what a loser. something as simple as buckling up and he chose not to for himself and his daughter. I have absolutely no sympathy for him. His daughter paid for his laziness and stupidity. Such a PREVENTABLE tragedy!!! Sign him up for a pre-darwin award because we don't need idiots like him. moron

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Seat belts? A 5-year old should have been in a friggin child seat and properly buckled up along with the man in the backseat! There is NO EXCUSE for stupidity! Why do children continue to die and police do NOTHING? Why are parents SO STUPID when it comes to the safety of their children? Why does Japan have laws it does not enforce?

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Fukuoka police believe the pair may not have been wearing seatbelts

Ya think?

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What can the police do? They cannot check every car. It is the parents responsibility to make sure their children are safe. The only thing the police can do, after the fact, is to charge the driver for failing to insure the passengers were properly belted.

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i believe that the police do not enforce the seatbelt law. this is just so sad that because things like this can be prevented. police - do your job. parents - buckle those kids - do YOUR job.

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Naoki Tachibana, 19! the road was straight at the scene of the accident, but that snow had fallen intermittently on Thursday.. Too young to drive too fast (probably) a car in such situations.

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I saw a small Mitsubishi wagon here, and there were about 5 kids under the age of 7 inside. Only one was in a car seat. The others were free roaming, and one even put her whole head out the window.

Japan really does nothing when it comes to seat belt use. It's the law, but there really seems to be an absolute lack of education, or the parents choose to ignore it. I say let the parent pay the price in jail.

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anshin - What can the police do?

They CAN check every car! They can get out of their police boxes and start enforcing the LAW! That is their job!

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Tragic, but not surprising really considering how little attention is paid to incar safety, of children in particular.

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My wife's family drive, 5 in a K-car, no one in seat-belts, but none of the concerned 'friends' are brave enough to say anything, except perhaps, いなかもんだから (bloody country bumpkins)when they're not around.

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Fukuoka police believe the pair may not have been wearing seatbelts

quote of the year already - well you think? Just the other day I saw a car with two small children sitting on mum's lap in the front seat - why are some people so dumb? Sure they might be a good driver - I am - but it is the other people on the road that truly scare me! (and not just in Japan)

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It is very tragic.

But coming from America it was the same thing 25 years ago. Japan just hasn't caught up to the rest of the world. I remember rolling around in the back of dad's woody wagon in 1979 as the car veered. He probably had a few drinks too.

I do applaud Japan's no tolerance policy for alcohol though.

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The people here are just not safety conscious. I don't know how many times I have seen a mother driving with her seatbelt on while her young child is standing the front seat. Go figure.

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A lot of assumptions here that wearing a seat belt would have helped. Few details, but it seems it wasn't a head-on collision, where seat belts are more effective. The girl was thrown clear, which in other circumstances may have reduced the risk of death and serious injury by reducing the impact force. About Japan not catching up with the rest of the world, I take it we mean the other five or six countries that have a lower road death rate.

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Well if the girl was hit by an oncoming vehicle then it was not a Motorway/Thruway; in Japan at present the law states that you have to buckle up in the back seat if you are on a toll-paying Motorway/Thruway, but I believe it leaves it open or up to the driver's discretion on regular roads. If this is the case, then the Police do not have anything to charge him with.

As the above posters have repeated, "Hello, Japan! Make your kids wear belts, even if you choose not to!"

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I cant make it a week here without seeing stupidity that leads to a kids death.

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What can the police do? They cannot check every car.

Yes, they can and do. Every once in a while you'll see a cop standing by the side of the road (without a speed gun, just looking.) Then you'll see a bunch of cops waving offenders over. Usually, they get a verbal warning.

If this was on the toll road, perhaps a cop has to stand at the entrance and check that each child is safely buckled up or in a child seat. One life saved is much better than the 'inconvenience' the adults have to put up with.

RIP Kaeda

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It is hard lessons in life that people learn from. Not to sound sarcastic in this thread, but I would think that Tachibana-san will ensure everyone in his vehicle will have their seat belts on when and if he is able to drive again.

If Japan enacts a stiff penalty as they do with alcohol related incidents, these fatalities would decrease. The operator of the vehicle should be made totally responsible for the lives of the passengers in the car.

My condolences to the family on the passing of Kaeda.

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albaleo - i beg to differ. in studies it is shown that seatbelts save lives. being thrown out of the car lead to her death. doesn`t get much clearer than that.

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When will Japan learn from the West about road safety law enforcement ?

Here (in France) :

seat belt (and child seat if applicable) usage is compulsory enforcement means fines for the driver who is responsible for compliance by passengers, and loss of DL's points.

Our road safety record (frightening in the past) shows huge progress over the last 3 or 4 years, thanks to stringent measures like the above, and also stiff fines (and loss of DL's points) for using handheld cellular telephone when driving, drinking and driving etc.

Mind you : even bicycle riders are now being fined for telephoning whilst riding !

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My 4-year-old took off his seat belt yesterday. I stopped the car immediately and made sure he put it back on. Aren't drivers in this country shown videos of people being thrown from cars? I wouldn't dream of driving without seatbelts.

We drove through the thick snow which fell in Nogata, Fukuoka yesterday. Most everyone was driving slowly and carefully, but we still witnessed the aftermath of two crashes.

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Hmm, Since I posted in this thread earlier today I've been for a 10 minute drive to the local supermarket. Now, strike me with lightening if I'm lying, I saw two police in a Crown patrol car stopped to turn right and a car in front of them waiting to turn left at the crossroad signal. The car directly opposite the police was a father in another Crown with two little girl's heads poked between the front seats. I was sitting at the opposite light and saw the police acknowledge the kids, but they did nothing. Neither did the father, I might add. They just cruised off on their merry ways. Then, two minutes down the road a young mother drove past in her little K-car with an 18 month old kid standing on her lap! All within 10 minutes! Seriously, I am not lying! I just cant believe it. This is on the outskirts of Tokyo, not out in the bush. Just unbelievable!

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I remember in the movie "Tucker" which was supposedly fairly accurate, about an auto show where he said that his car had seat belts. And the big three were worried about putting seat belts in their cars becuase that would imply that they weren't safe. This was round the fifties or sixties I beleive. Give Japan time, unfortunatley many more kids will die before it catches on.

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Bit of a dodgy translation in the article. Was she hit by a car behind or an oncoming vehicle or both? Not that it matters now I guess but...

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Seatbelts should be mandatory for all occupants of the car, full stop. At least if adults don't wear them that's their choice. Poor kids have to rely on their parents.

Actually, seat belts aren't enough for a five year-old. Smaller kids need a booster seat too and these should be made mandatory as they are here in slightly more socially-advanced Ontario.

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Nanda, I somehow doubt Japan's low highway death rate is a result of their lacks seat belt laws. More I would say it is because usually, cars can only inch along going bumper to bumper. Why not buckle up and reduce it even more?

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Seatbelt ad in the UK in the 70's: "Clunk, Click, Every Trip." can someone make that with cute sounds for Japan?

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UnagiDon, if you were really serious about car safety, you'd recommend that all car occupants wear crash helmets too. But somehow I don't imagine such a law being passed, in any developed country.

I sense an element of "pitchforker justice" in many of the comments here. Whether the girl's death was due to not wearing a seatbelt seems immaterial. Many just want to vent their rage on those who don't follow a Western nanny-state mentality. Am I to take it that bad driving can be excused if we all wear seat belts? (And on other threads on this site, I can be guaranteed that Japanese are being accused of acting like sheep.)

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Am I to take it that bad driving can be excused if we all wear seat belts?

It is not an excuse for bad driving, but certianly an act of negligence on the father's behalf.

As for it being a case imposing Western nanny-state mentality, tell me about it, cars should be able to drive at whatever speed they like, not nanny-state imposed speed limits. They should be able to drive on whatever side of the street they choose, not which side nanny-state tells them to drive. They should be able to choose to obey or not to obey nanny-state created signage like a stop sign or a red light. In conclusion, no speed limits, no yellow lines, no stop signs or red light and damn the state for exercising common sense.

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I don't think the state should be involved in forcing people to wear a seatbelt. However, I have no problem with requiring children to wear them. Its one thing to choose to do stupid things as an adult, its quite another to be so irresponsible, as to allow a child to be in a car without wearing a seatbelt.

To me, this is negligence. The girl died because her father didn't ensure she was buckled up. If this had happened in the states, he would likely be prosecuted.

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I don't think the state should be involved in forcing people to wear a seatbelt.

Yes they should. Because when you don't wear a seatbelt, you can also crush the other occupants of the car in an accident.

Japan needs a hard-hitting campaign with gory images combined with drastic police checks.

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Most Japanese are idiots when it comes to driving, once they are behind the wheel of a car, their IQ must shoot down to a level of 19? These parents are responsible for the death of this little 5 year old, period! RIP little Kaede chan!

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I see people in Japan riding in their cars all the time without seat belts. I even see drivers holding their children at the sametime. It's amazing common sense goes out the window these days.

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"Nanda, I somehow doubt Japan's low highway death rate is a result of their lacks seat belt laws. More I would say it is because usually, cars can only inch along going bumper to bumper. Why not buckle up and reduce it even more?".

Statistically they have a low death rate because they play with those statistics. I think that in Japan if you die of causes related to a car accident within three months (I could be wrong on that time limit though) you are put down as a traffic statistic. In most other countries even if you die ten years later or whenever, but the cause of that death was a car accident, then you are a traffic statistic. Now wonder they can claim a low traffic fatality rate.

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Statistically they have a low death rate because they play with those statistics. I think that in Japan if you die of causes related to a car accident within three months (I could be wrong on that time limit though) you are put down as a traffic statistic. In most other countries even if you die ten years later or whenever, but the cause of that death was a car accident, then you are a traffic statistic. Now wonder they can claim a low traffic fatality rate.

According to International Road Traffic and Accident Data Base, the death by traffic accident is defined within 30 days of the accident. Based on this unified criteria, there are only 4 OECD countries that had lower rate than that of Japan.

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nigel - is that so? Glad to hear it because it must have changed in the not so long past.

Until that recent change, deaths occuring after 24 HOURS had passed were NOT attributed to road accident. A truly classic ONLY IN JAPAN.

And the tragic death of the little girl should be refarded as manslaughter in the least. The parent not only has a duty of care, the law stipulates the compulsory wearing of seat belts - front or back - and the compulsory fitting and use of an approved child restaining seat for a child of 5 years.

There is no gray area in this matter at all. Just a sorrowful lack of gray matter.

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if I had it my way I would make roll cages and 5 point seat belts compulsory

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this is all too bad

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"nigel - is that so? Glad to hear it because it must have changed in the not so long past.

Until that recent change, deaths occuring after 24 HOURS had passed were NOT attributed to road accident. A truly classic ONLY IN JAPAN."

Since 1993, the government has kept three separate figures which are

Death within 24 hrs Death within 30 days Death within 1 year

http://www.npa.go.jp/toukei/koutuu48/H19.Dead.pdf

What I was talking about in the above are the "unified criteria" by IRTAD which used the "Death within 30 days" which ranked Japan 5th lowest among the OECD countries.

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i think that we should always be looking for practical ways to keep on decreasing the number of road deaths every year. the compulsory use of seatbelts for all passengers is a good start and in a coutry with low speed-limits this should save many lives. I am sure that if the two passengers in the back of the vehicle were wearing seatbelts then this tragedy could have be avoided. i think that the two adults in this vehicle are definately responsible for the death of this poor child.

drivers in japan definitely need to be more responsible. i see so many people with kids and pets jumping around in the car. even if you are a "careful" driver you cannot trust everyone else to be so. i know that in some countries (and i am not sure about japan) it is the responsibility of the driver to make sure that everyone is wearing a seatbelt before driving anywhere. failure to do so is a punishible offence. in some cases the driver can be criminally charged for any deaths resulting from his negligence.

also, i have even seen people driving around with sunglasses on...at night! why? why? oh, why is this necessary? and drivers with the seat so far back they can hardly see over the steering wheel? again - why? all the tv/dvd screens are surely a distraction to the driver as well.

come on guys...just try thinking about what you're doing occasionally.

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As for it being a case imposing Western nanny-state mentality, tell me about it, cars should be able to drive at whatever speed they like, not nanny-state imposed speed limits.

Goodjorb, Nanny-state imposed speed limits were introduced to curb the the carnage (read accident rate) on the roads. It was further increased as the oil shortage/fuel crisis during the early 70's.

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