“Defendant, may I?
It was after the judge had read out the reasons for the sentence, which lasted about an hour. After about an hour of reading the reasons for the verdict, the presiding judge began to give an unusual lecture in a clear tone of voice.
“Negligence is obvious. If you are satisfied with the verdict, I would like you to sincerely apologize to the bereaved families of the victims.
The defendant nodded his head and gave several small nods.
On September 2, Kozo Iizuka, 90, former director of the Industrial Technology Research Institute of the former Ministry of International Trade and Industry, was sentenced to five years in prison for a runaway passenger car accident that occurred in Ikebukuro, Tokyo in April 2007. Iizuka appeared in court dressed in a black suit, pushed in a wheelchair by his representative. When Judge Kenji Shimotsu handed down the sentence, he bowed his head twice. Mr. Takaaki Sono, a lawyer who specializes in traffic accident cases, explained the content of the verdict.
“It’s a heavy sentence that is in line with the feelings of the bereaved families. Compared to drunkenness or driving without a license, negligence cases often do not result in jail time. However, the defendant continued to deny that he had mistakenly stepped on the gas pedal and brake, which may have been perceived as ‘no remorse. I think the psychological burden on the bereaved families after the accident, when several people died, was also taken into consideration.
“Accelerating when I wasn’t on the gas pedal”
It was a tragic accident. On the day of the accident, the passenger car driven by the defendant, Iizuka, ignored a red light and entered a crosswalk. At a speed of nearly 100 km/h, far exceeding the speed limit, it knocked down pedestrians one after another. Mana Matsunaga (31 at the time) and her eldest daughter, Riko (3), who were in the crosswalk, were killed, and nine others were seriously injured.
“In the trial that began in October 2008, the defendant Iizuka kept saying that there was no problem with his driving ability and that he was not negligent. He claimed that there was something wrong with the Prius he was driving, saying that it accelerated even though he didn’t press the gas pedal. He claimed that there was something wrong with the Prius he was riding in, that the car’s electrical system had deteriorated over time and the brakes were no longer working, and that this was the cause of the runaway.
However, considering the results of the analysis of the passenger car after the accident and the testimonies, it is clear that Iizuka was at fault. In June of this year, Toyota Motor Corporation, the manufacturer of the Prius, issued an unusual comment. In June of this year, Toyota Motor Corporation, the manufacturer of the Prius, issued an unusual comment: “No abnormalities or technical problems were found in the vehicle.
The family of the deceased strongly opposes Iizuka’s claim. Takuya Matsunaga, 35, husband of the deceased Mana Matsunaga, held a press conference immediately after the questioning of the accused in April this year and expressed his indignation.
“I was most disappointed after the accident because they kept making ridiculous claims.
Takuya also held a press conference after the prison sentence was handed down on September 2. He explained his feelings as follows.
“I feel disappointed, but I hope it will give the bereaved family a chance to look forward to their lives. The timing for Iizuka to admit his guilt and sincerely apologize is after his sentence is finalized. If he apologizes, we will have no choice but to accept it. I would like to watch the defendant’s behavior from now on.”
After the verdict, the judge told Takuya, “I would like you to apologize,” which seems to have touched his heart. “After the verdict, the judge said, “I want you to apologize.
“The reason why the presiding judge gave the unusual lecture was because Iizuka had said, ‘I feel legally responsible, but I can’t answer (about an apology). He must have thought that he should accept the objective facts. I think he was trying to be considerate of the bereaved family’s feelings.
According to the National Police Agency, there were 21,103 accidents caused by mistakenly stepping on the gas pedal and brake in the five years between 2004 and 2008. Of these, 243 resulted in the death of the victim. …… If the defendant Iizuka is dissatisfied with the verdict, he will appeal within two weeks, and the case will continue to be heard by the Tokyo High Court.
Photo by： Shinji Hasuo