Family of elderly woman knocked down by cyclist awarded Y47 mil damages over her death

TOKYO —

The Tokyo District Court this week ordered a man to pay 47 million in damages to the family of a 75-year-old woman who died after he knocked her down with his bicycle in January 2010. The woman, Reiko Azuma, fell unconscious and died five days later.

The court ruled that the cyclist, who is now 46, was responsible for the woman’s untimely death, Fuji TV reported. The ruling said: “Because the man was not paying attention to pedestrians ahead of him, the fault lies with him.”

The collision occurred when the woman was walking across a street in Tokyo’s Ota Ward. The cyclist told police he did not notice the light was red before he crashed into the woman.

Japan Today

  • 6

    SimondB

    And yet, as far as I know, the same does not apply if you kill someone with your car. Apart from that, who amongst us has a spare 47 million yen sitting around the place?

  • 3

    DudeDeuce

    Wasn't the high school boy that did the same thing in Kobe forced to pay a lot more?

  • 5

    jojo_in_japan

    Far too many cyclist too busy on phones, smoking, holding umbrellas ect ....

  • 3

    Carcharodon

    Far too many cyclist too busy on phones, smoking, holding umbrellas etc ....

    And far more pedestrians acting even more obliviously, a cyclist using say a phone has at least one eye on the road, pedestrians on a phone are usually totally absorbed and completely oblivious to the their fellow road users. Not absolving this chap of blame, but every road user needs to pay more attention. In this case he did the deed, he should pay the consequences, though 47million is rather exorbitant. A green light is not a magic force field, you still have to look

  • 0

    Alan

    And yet, as far as I know, the same does not apply if you kill someone with your car.

    I think it does. The difference is that car insurance would usually cover the compensation payment. People don't have third party insurance cover for their bicycles, so this cyclist will have to pay the lot himself.

  • 7

    gogogo

    Should have said he was drunk and didn't remember anything and he would have gotten away with it.

  • 2

    IparryU

    @Carcharodon, people walking with out paying attention wont really kill someone else if they run into them... unlike someone riding a bike. Cyclists are not even supposed to be on the sidewalk anyway unless they are old (even more dangerous) a young child, or an adult riding with young children. But this then presents more issues for drivers, because they are as careless as the cyclists.

    Your last 3 points are spot on.

  • -1

    ambrosia

    That is a lot of money but I can't say as that I feel that sorry for him. He took someone's life when all he had to do, indeed, should have been doing, was paying attention. Bicycles on sidewalks and bicyclists in general, in Japan, are god-awful, selfish menaces. I've lost count of how many times I've been bumped into and nearly run over by them. And I don't even walk in the middle of the sidewalk either. I generally stick to one side so as to avoid the crazy cyclists. This is coming from someone who regularly commutes to work by bicycle too so it's not as if I'm anti-bicycle. I'm just anti-idiots-on-bicycles. I'd like to think that this decision will encourage other cyclists to pay attention and follow the rules but I doubt it. The police are too busy stopping cyclists to see if they own the bikes they're on rather than to ticket them for riding dangerously and riders are too oblivious to the dangers their selfish habits create for themselves and others.

  • 0

    Disillusioned

    Holy smoke! That's nearly half a million bucks! How did they come to that amount for the death of a woman in her mid-70's? How about these drivers that kill children? Are their penalties scaled to suit?

  • -4

    Frungy

    SimondBJan. 30, 2014 - 07:39AM JST And yet, as far as I know, the same does not apply if you kill someone with your car. Apart from that, who amongst us has a spare 47 million yen sitting around the place?

    Actually the driver of the car is also liable to a civil suit, but normally they're already in prison by this point from the criminal charges. As in the U.S., securing a criminal conviction first strengthens the case for a civil suit afterwards.

  • -2

    Knox Harrington

    While this joker should definitely be made to pay, 47 mil sounds a bit over the top, no? Also, if those so called officers of te law opened their eyes once in a while, when on their way to the konbini to buy snacks, and started fining the people riding like idiots, they'd make a lot of cash quickly.

    Japan's bicycle "culture" is a joke. Just yesterday I told some woman off when she tried to go through me with her mamachari. I asked why she didn't use the bike lane two meters to the left instead of riding on the sidewalk. The sheepish "sumimasen" didn't help...

  • 1

    lucabrasi

    Why are people complaining about cyclists on pavements (sidewalks)? The article clearly says that the lady was crossing the street....

    And I'd love to know how the compensation was calculated. Where does 47 million come from.

    If someone killed a member of my family I wouldn't want a penny. How can any number of banknotes make up for a lost human life?

  • 0

    Sawendro

    In Britain, I cycled everywhere. I obeyed the Rules of the Road even if that meant stopping at a red light at 0300 in the snow with no other traffic around.

    Now I moved to Japan, I dare not cycle. No-one here has been able to explain the laws about where bikes should be (roads vs pavements) when there're no cycle paths around. And most other riders seem to be on the phone, holding umbrellas (or parasols in summer) or doing lots of other things. It scares me.

    In short, it strikes me that this man - undoubtedly no small fool - is a product of the insanity that is the Japanese bike community.

  • -2

    ambrosia

    lucabrasi: Why are people complaining about cyclists on pavements (sidewalks)? The article clearly says that the lady was crossing the street....

    Yes, this lady was hit while crossing the street but the reason posters are complaining about cyclists on the sidewalks is because that's where they cause the most trouble for most of us. Most all of us have had incidents with cyclists and probably most of them occurred while we we walking on sidewalks or the side of the road. And when they are on the sidewalks and then cross the streets, they usually do that too without following the rules and by causing the greatest inconvenience to pedestrians trying to cross as well.

    And I'd love to know how the compensation was calculated. Where does 47 million come from.

    Interesting question. I did a quick check but couldn't really find an adequate answer. I'd be curious to hear what others might know on that topic.

    If someone killed a member of my family I wouldn't want a penny. How can any number of banknotes make up for a lost human life?

    The money isn't meant to make up for the loss of a life. It's meant to punish the person who committed the crime and to deter others from committing the same criminal action. It is also a way to compensate dependents for a loss of income. People keep citing the age of the woman killed but does anyone know if she had dependents? She may have supported children or grandchildren for any number of reasons. My next door neighbors are quite old and their only child is mentally handicapped. She wouldn't be able to live on her own so I imagine that if something like this were to happen to her parents, any monetary damages would go towards supporting her in some sort of facility.

  • -1

    lucabrasi

    @Ambrosia

    See what you're saying, and of course economic dependents, if any, must be looked after. But revenge is always wrong in my book (and according to psychologsts and every major religion.) If someone killed my own mother, God forbid, I wouldn't want anything in compensation. And nor would my father or brothers.

    Not trying to be all pious, but that's just how I feel....**

  • 1

    FizzBit

    So how much is 3rd party insurance for bikes? Might be a good idea.

  • 2

    It"S ME

    I think about 1000yen/year but not sure.

  • 1

    yokohamarides

    Any pedestrian death is a tragedy - but it`s important to keep things in perspective. Pedestrians have a lot more to fear from automobiles than they do bicycles. In Japan, in 2012, 1629 pedestrians were killed by cars vs 5 killed by cyclists.

    563 cyclists died the same year.

    http://bit.ly/1e6Dz5q

    It is the rarity of fatal cyclist/pedestrian accidents that always ensures that every incident makes the headlines.

  • 1

    Sugar Bowl

    Pedestrians have a lot more to fear from automobiles than they do bicycles.

    But so many waltz around with no fear at all.

    Yes, the old woman had the right of way (assuming she did not jump the green), so we can feel safe punishing the man. However, when you have the right of way, do you just take it and not look around? Did the woman? Apparently not.

    A green light does not mean close your eyes and "go". It means you have the right of way. And there are times when you should give up the right of way.

  • -1

    ambrosia

    lucabrasi: But revenge is always wrong in my book (and according to psychologsts and every major religion.) If someone killed my own mother, God forbid, I wouldn't want anything in compensation.

    That's fine and I'm not big on revenge either but then again, I never said anything about revenge in my post. Again, I have no idea if anyone was legitimately financially dependent on this woman. Do you? Also, the reality is that there are three ways to make people feel for what they've done and to discourage others from doing the same: shame, jail time, money. This guy may have felt shame but not until after he killed her, otherwise he would have been paying attention and cycling properly. Given a choice between jail time and money, he might well have preferred the latter.

  • 1

    kaimycahl

    @ Elbuda Mexicano

    Anyway 47 million is ludicris?? Crazy!! She was almost 80 years old! She aint worth that much, right??

    WRONG!!! First of all you meant ludicrous NOT ludicris. Also for all you know this lady was at one time maybe someone's daughter, mother, wife, grandmother. How dare you say" She aint worth that much". You can never put a price on life! Your post are..............................

  • 1

    Fandango Spoonmonkey

    but every road user needs to pay more attention.

    Preaching to the choir dear boy. Preaching to the choir...

  • 1

    NathalieB

    And yet at the other end of the scale, my friends daughter was knocked down and seriously hurt by a cyclist on the sidewalk (she was 3) and when the police came round, racially abused her American husband (quote "Where is your husband from?" and on replying, "he cant possibly be American - he doesnt look American" - the guy was of Asian non-Japanese descent) and told her - again quote - "you wont get any money you know." She wasnt after money - she was after an apology and punishment for his complete lack of care right outside a daycare center. She wanted the police to do their job. They refused.

  • -4

    Elbuda Mexicano

    RIP older lady.

  • -1

    ambrosia

    sugar bowl: Yes, the old woman had the right of way (assuming she did not jump the green), so we can feel safe punishing the man. However, when you have the right of way, do you just take it and not look around? Did the woman? Apparently not. A green light does not mean close your eyes and "go". It means you have the right of way. And there are times when you should give up the right of way.

    I understand what you're getting at but you're making the assumption that the woman didn't look before she crossed the street. Even if she had looked, if the cyclists came out of no where, there's not much she could have done to have prevented that. At her age, she may well have had bad vision and not been able to move too quickly.

    When you have a green light, of course you should look before you cross but beyond that, a person has to have a certain degree of trust in the people around them stopping when and where they are supposed to. Without that, no one would get anywhere, not pedestrians, cyclists or cars. She had a green light, he burned through a red light without looking where he was going. There's no need to suggest that it was anyone's fault but his.

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