Driver runs red light in Mie, hits car, killing 11-year-old girl

MIE —

A car that ran a red light in Suzuka, Mie Prefecture, on Thursday, caused a traffic accident in which an 11-year-old girl was killed, police said Friday.

A 58-year-old man was driving home after having been shopping with his wife and four grandchildren when his car was hit by a driver running a red light at an intersection in Mikkaichicho at around 3 p.m., Fuji TV reported. Five of the group were injured in the crash, but one of the man’s granddaughters, an 11-year-old girl, was killed.

The driver of the car that ran the red light, who has been named as Emiko Asai, a 48-year-old unemployed woman from Suzuka, was arrested on a charge of accidental infliction of injury with a vehicle. Asai was quoted by police as saying she didn’t notice the red light.

Japan Today

  • 5

    sakurala

    So sad. I hope they get stricter with drivers who obviously are not paying attention or are speeding. But that being said, it is important to check if traffic is coming even if you have a green light. So many people run red lights here, it is almost best to wait 5 seconds after it turns green to go.

  • 4

    pumpkin31526

    Nobody ever thinks of the consequences of running red lights here. This poor young girl killed by a selfish self centered driver trying to save a few seconds for what? Accidental infliction of injury....what a joke..should be manslauter! RIP little girl.

  • 4

    sensei258

    Call the crime what it is, vehicular manslaughter, and make the guilty pay appropriately. When somebody acts with reckless disregard, e.g. driving a deadly weapon without paying attention, and causes a death, they should spend a lot of time in jail. I am sick of the "sympathy for the guilty" mindset in Japan.

  • 0

    Waxman

    Please dont drive if you cannot keep you attention on the lights and road instructions, my heart aches for the little girl, but the stupid old woman will curse herself for the rest of her life for that short moment of mistake! RIP little girl

  • 4

    Harry_Gatto

    All of the above is pretty obvious; the root of the problem is the lazy police who have allowed drivers to get away with this for so long.

  • 1

    mtwildman

    Wonder if she was texting or on the cell phone...not paying attention kill's many every year.

  • 3

    Lyndon Green

    She should charged with driving without due care and attention (didn't notice the red light) and causing death by dangerous driving. Accidental infliction of injury with a vehicle is ridiculous. R.I.P. little girl.

  • 5

    Disillusioned

    Too many drivers don't stop at red lights in Japan and the police do very little to deter drivers from running them. The penalty for running a red light is only 7,000yen, which is absolutely absurd! I have always found amusing that, if you walk across the street on a red signal everybody stares at you as if you were a master criminal, but those same people will watch five or six cars fly through an intersection after the lights have changed and have no reaction at all. And then, there are pedestrian crossings. I had a guy in a car the other day that just barged his way through the crossing as 20 odd people were walking on it. I remember nearly falling out if my chair when one of my students proclaimed, "Japanese are good drivers!" And sadly, he believes it.

  • 3

    letsberealistic

    Harry_GattoDEC. 29, 2012 - 08:48AM JST All of the above is pretty obvious; the root of the problem is the lazy police who have allowed drivers to get away with this for so long.

    I think everyone agrees driving rules being broken is entrenched and I don't blame the Japanese so much as police tolerance levels.

    In NZ and AU where I'm from, if you speed or go through a red light the chances are very high you will be stopped by a police car and fined, without question (it happened to me several times when I was more young and reckless).

    I work 100 metres from a major Shinjuku intersection where running red lights is normal - there is a police box 50 metres away with cops standing out front watching drivers breaking the law and risking lives. Tolerant or lazy? Or both?

  • 0

    wanderlust

    Not to excuse her red-light running, but it doesn't help that with lights placed so close together and inconsistently suspended over the crossings at different heights, you can mistake the lights of the next crossing with the one you are coming up to. It often seems that the people who design and build crossings, intersections, etc., have never driven in their lives...

  • -4

    DudeDeuce

    If you think this one incident of red light running is appalling, you wouldn't last a day in Osaka.

  • 5

    zenkan

    Every month on zero accident day a police officer oversees some of the big junctions where I live. This involves blowing a whistle (importantly) to indicate when vehicles should be stopping or people should desist from crossing. Why not go the whole hog and strap a bass drum to their backs and have them crash cymbals in time to "The Stripper"? It would be just as effective, and provide entertainment for busy shoppers and tired workers. What drivers get away with here is shocking, but the police are too busy questioning schoolchildren and pensioners on bicycles. Oh, and were all of the children in the car wearing seatbelts? Or were some of them sitting on the dashboard/romping on the back shelf? That seems to be the norm, from what I can see.

  • 2

    smithinjapan

    Wow... she 'didn't notice the red light' -- the signal that indicates a car should stop. So what was she focussed on, then? In any case she's guilty of negligence resulting in death, not 'accidental infliction of injury'. Poor little girl, and poor family.

  • 0

    smithinjapan

    The thing I find weird is that they mention the woman was unemployed but don't offer any reason as to why it should be mentioned. If she were working would they have said, "...48 year-old employed Asai"? No. If she wasn't paying attention to the red light when she hit the other car, I doubt it had anything to do with employment issues.

  • -5

    techall

    With all these posters jumping on the woman driver, I would ilke to see the car this guy had 6 people crammed into and the conditions at the intersection (sometimes there are so many lights and signs it's hard to tell).

  • 1

    billyshears

    The penalty for running a red light is only 7,000yen, which is absolutely absurd

    Actually, 9,000 yen for a first-time offense in a car. Plus 2 penalty points (repeat offense, 7 points. 15 points and your license is suspended for a year). 7,000yen is for a motor bike, 6,000yen for a scooter and 12,000yen for a truck. I'm not sure of the reasoning, but the smaller the vehicle, the smaller the fine for running a red light.

    Yes, a crime suspect's job (or lack of) is always mentioned in reports. Not sure why. Maybe it adds to the shame factor.

    Accidental infliction of injury....what a joke..should be manslauter!

    I think it is still going to be tough for the driver because she'll have to live the rest of her life knowing that she caused the death of an 11-year-old girl. If that were me, I think it would be a continual nightmare and guilt trip I would carry around until my dying day.

  • -1

    mrkobayashi

    I got hit by a distracted woman driver in Kitakyushu and was judged to be 50% at fault because there were no witnesses

    I highly doubt that. The operator of the bigger vehicle is always at fault in Japan unless there is evidence to prove otherwise.

  • -2

    TheInterstat

    Not true. It is more complex than that.

  • 0

    cramp

    don't they have light cameras in jpn?...so it'll snap a pic of their lic plate if they run the red

  • 0

    MaximumMan

    not that makes a difference now, but i bet you any money the little girl in the 1 box van wasn't wearing her seatbelt

  • 0

    MaximumMan

    i've heard of soo many accidents where the people involved not wearing seatbelts were flung out of the car

  • -1

    danako

    @pumpkin, I must have missed the part where she said she ran the red light to save a few seconds. Or were you just assuming that? If she wasn't texting, wasn't on the phone, or hadn't been drinking I would find it hard to call it manslaughter. All accidents are preventable but still they happen. Maybe she really just missed it. I'm sure that all of us have been distracted while driving, and lucky that we weren't hurt or hurt someone else. And I'd also be curious to know if the people involved were wearing their seatbelts.

  • 1

    Mirai Hayashi

    was arrested on a charge of accidental infliction of injury with a vehicle. Asai was quoted by police as saying she didn’t notice the red light.

    REALLY?? what the hell kind of excuse is "I didn't notice the red light"?????? She definitely deserves an involuntary manslaughter charge and some time in jail for stupidity if anything.

  • 0

    smithinjapan

    It's simply astounding that people will defend this woman and look for every excuse under the sun as to how she may be less guilty. The lights in Japan are timed so that when they turn red, the other lights don't turn green for two seconds or so -- it is not an instantaneous switch. For her to have hit the other car going through a red means she went through WELL after it turned red, and trying to blame the 11 year-old DEAD girl for not wearing a seatbelt is just sad.

    billyshears: "I think it is still going to be tough for the driver because she'll have to live the rest of her life knowing that she caused the death of an 11-year-old girl. If that were me, I think it would be a continual nightmare and guilt trip I would carry around until my dying day."

    Awwww... well, my heart just goes out to her. So people who feel sorry for themselves because they were negligent and killed other human beings shouldn't be charged with manslaughter because they have to live with it? How do you think the family of the little girl feels?

  • 0

    Impersonator

    Rest in peace to the little girl, and I wish a promptly recovery to the other victims.

    Gotta love how comments swing. Some some bash the woman driver and some are even sympathetic to her, some bash the victims for the admittedly high probability of not wearing seat belts, and one even bashed the article based on the irrelevance of her employment status. End everyone is sadly right.

    Here, her only written defense was "not noticing the red light", which translates to not noticing the traffic lights at all. The case is clear and there is no need to say anything, other than good wishes to the victims.

  • 0

    Terrie Fox

    I'm sure that, like most Japanese people do, they didn't put the children's seat belts.

    Every day, I see mothers holding their child on themselves, sometimes while driving, and some other times the kids are WALKING in the car.

    Crazy people.

  • 0

    Pukey2

    was arrested on a charge of accidental infliction of injury with a vehicle.

    I agree with the posters here. Just saying that it was an accident gives the impression that the driver was not at fault. As pumpkin says, this was due to pure selfishness. Many a times, I've had near crashes while crossing roads (at pedestrian crossings when the PEDESTRIAN lights are green) either on foot or on bicycle. The drivers can see me, but they just don't want to stop even though I have priority. Or it could be they're blind. The last time it happened, the stupid driver who wasn't even driving that fast, assumed I would just stop (what the heck for, if the pedestrian lights are green?)

    I've learnt that, in Japan, green pedestrian lights mean nothing. And why bother painting other crossings (with no lights) on the road - I don't EVER recall a Japanese driver stopping to let me cross.

  • -1

    danalawton1@yahoo.com

    I very much agree with the Posters here.... too, too many times I've watched drivers cruise through Red Lights... even while Police stood there watching from their Koban. That said... just about every driver and pedestrian in Japan knows this and are careful even after the light turns Green for them. This person that ran the Red Light probably went through it well after (more than 5 to 10 seconds) it went Red.

  • -1

    hobart_mark

    Was she wearing a seatbelt? I see countless Japanese children in cars, daily, without being buckled up.

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