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BalefireJun. 13, 2013 - 11:15AM JST
I get so tired of hearing "it would cause confusion" as an excuse for yet another cover-up or less-than-ethical policy decision.
Posted in: Japan baseball chiefs admit lying over ball change
BalefireMay. 17, 2013 - 06:45PM JST
He seems pretty young to have left the police force, unless there was some previous trouble that caused them to ask him quietly to resign.
I'd be very interested in knowing just what caused him to leave.
If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on the brass covering up similar behavior in hope of avoiding a scandal.
If so, they exercised bad judgement, it seems.
But that's only speculation.
I'm glad the girl got away, and the guy got caught.
Posted in: Ex-cop arrested for attempting to abduct 15-year-old girl
BalefireMay. 14, 2013 - 03:44PM JST
So a murder suspect for whom a psychiatrict exam was deemed necessary was not kept under suicide watch? Baffling.
The Prosecutor's Office statement is wrong on more level than one. Despicable.
Posted in: Murder suspect commits suicide in hospital
BalefireMay. 14, 2013 - 12:31PM JST
Some of the TV news stories last night pointed out that the victim hadn't been wearing a helmet. It doesn't seem to me as if it would have saved him, even if he had been. RIP
Posted in: Construction worker dies after being hit by metal pipes falling from crane
BalefireMay. 11, 2013 - 07:04PM JST
Saitama City is pretty close to Tokyo, and is a relatively urban area (at least compared with much of the rest of the prefecture), so the perception--mistaken, but pretty pervasive IMO--that crime is mostly an urban thing and you can leave your doors open in the country doesn't seem to apply here.
You would think that people would have the sense to lock their doors, at the very least when they've gone to sleep if not all the time. There appear to be a lot of folks who still believe in the myth of "safe(ty) Japan", to the extent that they neglect common sense security measures, despite abundant evidence in the news that Japan--while perhaps safer than many other places--is nevertheless more than sufficiently supplied with criminals and perverts.
Stay safe, folks, and if you have naive Japanese friends/relatives, you might occasionally point out these cases and try to convince them to be a bit more wary and careful about their own security.
Posted in: Man arrested for cutting off women's clothes as they slept
BalefireMay. 11, 2013 - 09:33AM JST
@nigelboy That's true, and that's why such stories make the news. Of course, if you or one of your loved ones is one of the 400, it doesn't look so lucky anymore. In fact, the traffic here is pretty slow overall and although there are plenty of narrow, poor-visibility streets with no sidewalks, there are fewer pedestrian fatalities than one would expect. I suspect there are a lot of injuries, many unreported, with adult victims, however.
I've been driving cars and motorcycles, and riding bicycles, and walking here for decades, and although I've witnessed some accidents they have mostly been between vehicles. Those involving pedestrians that I've seen or know of from friends/relatives have been relatively minor, luckily.
I've had dozens, probably well over a hundred, close calls over the years mostly related to folks darting into the road from behind objects/vehicles, on foot or on bicycles mostly, and some involving incompetent motorists, but I am very careful and drive/ride always with an eye to what might happen rather than what seems likely.
Nevertheless, if I had a small child walking back and forth to school, I'd be anxious about it.
Posted in: 7-year-old girl run down, killed at pedestrian crossing near home
BalefireMay. 11, 2013 - 09:12AM JST
At least some people who live in rural or semi-rural areas still seem to leave their front doors unlocked. On the other hand, others who live in the same areas seem quite obsessive about locking up, including closing the amado shutters every night. I suppose that some of the people in the more bucolic backwaters are lulled into a false sense of security.
I've known several families who are quite diligent about locking their front doors but commonly leave their kitchen/"tradesmen" doors ("kateiguchi") doors unlocked, which mystifies me.
There also seem to be many people leaving the (screened) sliding doors to their gardens wide open to cool/ventilate their homes rather than locking everything and running the A/C. Saving electricity/money and/or health concerns may figure into this.
The article doesn't say where in Saitama the incidents took place, but I've certainly seen some pretty lax home security in the northern Saitama/southern Gunma border country around Kumagaya and Ohta.
On the other hand, when I lived in various places in metropolitan Tokyo or in Kanagawa I knew many apartment-dwelling people who were careful about locking their front doors but habitually left their veranda/balcony doors unlocked...even if they lived on the ground floor.
The article mentions apartments rather than single dwelling homes, and doesn't say which part of Saitama, but from experience I'm not terribly surprised about the unlocked doors.
BalefireMay. 10, 2013 - 08:46PM JST
@Frungy and @yokohamarides That infuriates me, too. I always stop for pedestrians, whether on my motorcycle or in my car, and the people who go right around me and through the crossing--often passing illegally even if it weren't a crossing--enrage me. I'd love to see more enforcement. In fact, although I can see the difficulties in actually implementing such a plan, I'd rather see the civilian traffic wardens handing out tickets for unsafe driving at crossings, especially around schools, than for parking violations. It'd be tax money better spent, IMO.
BalefireMay. 10, 2013 - 08:27PM JST
I used to be a guide, and have climbed Fuji-san many times long ago, mostly leading groups of 40 or so, but a couple of times by myself or with a couple of friends. The infrastructure was somewhat lacking then, and I hear it's better now, but it's impractical to rely on trash bins. The sheer number of people and the logistics--even though the climbing season is very short--just don't make it feasible to expect trash bins to suffice or to be emptied frequently/completely. It's a big, high mountain, and the roads stop (except for a switchback bulldozer track partway beyond) where most people start to climb. The folks that run the huts do a pretty good job of gathering and bagging trash around their immediate area, but there are limits to what they can do, or what other volunteers or even paid "wardens" can do.
Ideally, climbers should have the good manners to take their bottles, cans, wrappers, lemon husks, bento boxes, oxygen bottles, etc., with them when they leave. It's not an ideal world, though, and Fuji-san isn't the only area where people are extremely sloppy and inconsiderate with their trash...it is, though, probably the biggest scale nightmare for trash collection/disposal, albeit for just a couple of months out of the year.
It's arguable that trash bins, even if they're overflowing, encourage people not to carry their own trash away and off the mountain.
It's sad, but a usage fee is probably necessary. That won't solve the problem, either, I suspect, nor would fines (realistically, they'd be hard to enforce 24 hours a day with that many climbers). At best, one could hope that pointing out the problem, with the fee and if possible with spot fines well publicized, would help to adjust people's attitudes, but I'm not very sanguine, unfortunately.
I have heard that usage fees have had some limited success reducing trash on beaches and riversides. The operatie word, sadly, is limited.
Posted in: What do you think about the proposed plan to charge Mount Fuji climbers a fee to help pay for the costs of cleaning up garbage left on the mountain?
BalefireMay. 10, 2013 - 07:40PM JST
I have been told numerous times both by individual police and in the course of the lectures given when you get your license renewed, that the rule is that a vehicle must not enter the crossing when there are any pedestrians in it, regardless of where they are relative to the vehicle. I've been told several times that whether the pedestrian is crossing against the light is irrelevant, too.
This includes, for example, a solitary pedestrian--jaywalker or law-abiding citizen--who has already walked past your car (saw a guy get a ticket in Omotesando maybe 20 years go for going through the crossing after a pedestrian had already crossed past the front of his car and was a good 5 meters away, just a step from the sidewalk). Also includes pedestrians who have just entered the crossing five lanes away from you on the other side of the street when your vehicle is right up against the crossing in the lane farthest from them. The vehicle is theoretically supposed to wait until there are no pedestrians in the crossing at all before proceeding through it.
Realistically, that's impractical at some intersections (Ginza 4-chome, for example, or the scramble crossing in Shibuya, or many others): it would create even more gridlock than already happens. Thus a lot of cops don't enforce it if nobody is endangered...but note the Omotesando example above.
I've also been told several times that the same rule applies to bicycles, BTW: they're meant to stop and not be ridden through crossings when there are pedestrians anywhere in the crossing. I certainly haven't seen that being obeyed or enforced.
However, impractical or not, gridlock or not, oblivious pedestrians or not, there's no excuse acceptable for hitting a pedestrian in a crosswalk and as a driver you'd best be prepared for what might happen. If you're not ready to endure blaring horns behind you, interminable waits at crossings while dawdlers/gamers/texters saunter/jaywalk/whatever, or to risk getting a hefty ticket for going through the crossing while someone is anywhere in it, or to deal with the basic "the pedestrian is always right" approach...then maybe you shouldn't drive here.
I'm pretty sure that no driver's excuse, regardless of how logical, would be very persuasive to the parents of a dead child.
BalefireMay. 10, 2013 - 11:28AM JST
@Fadamor That's a good point. One very occasionally reads about someone who's not a teacher or a cop doing pervy things, but it seems that it's more newsworthy when the police or teachers--or once in a while some other government worker--gets caught. I guess it's a combination of "who shall guard the guards themselves" and "we've got wolves guarding the sheep" and maybe "jeez, these guys are being paid by our taxes" that causes them to dominate the news...or at least the media believe them to be (more) newsworthy for such reasons.
I have no doubt that there are a lot more "regular people"--probably in the normal population distribution relative to cops, teachers, and the like--doing the same thing but who who just don't make the news. Teachers might be exceptional, I suppose, because of more exposure or even having been motivated to enter the profession from base motives, but I rather doubt it, really.
It's probably just as well that every case doesn't make the news: it would likely become commonplace and a lot of folks would become desensitized from sheer volume/familiarity. or maybe that's too cynical. Nah....
Posted in: Teacher arrested for taking video up skirt of 15-year-old girl in Chiba
BalefireMay. 01, 2013 - 11:42AM JST
@zichi You're right, and not the little ones with long tails.
Posted in: TEPCO reports Y685.3 bil loss due to compensation and energy import costs
BalefireApr. 26, 2013 - 09:23AM JST
@Moondog That's good to know about the current state of cameras; the track in addition to the rear view sounds as if it would be helpful for drivers especially in some of the really narrow and obstructed roads. I'd think they'd be good for folks who rent trucks for moving or what not without being frequent drivers of large vehicles, as well as for drivers of garbage trucks, delivery trucks, or what-have-you. I'll look into rear-view cameras next time I buy a car.
Certainly anything that reduces the risk of hitting pedestrians--kids or otherwise--is a good thng.
And I don't envy your friend his teen experience in wartime Zama...that must have been truly dire.
Posted in: 14-month-old boy dies after being hit by garbage truck
BalefireApr. 24, 2013 - 08:50PM JST
From photos on the TV news, it's difficult for me to believe that the buckled section got that way spontaneously. It really looks as if it had been pried, or bashed. Perhaps it was purposeful vandalization, perhaps it was caught and bent by luggage, but it really doesn't look like something that happened due to normal wear and tear.
Posted in: 6 injured in escalator accident at Akihabara Station in Tokyo
BalefireApr. 24, 2013 - 06:39PM JST
@moondog You make a good point about garbage truck workers riding on the back or running alongside while working. Our experience seems similar (various parts of Kanagawa, Tokyo, and Saitama in my case), and 30 years is a long time. I've been here since '70, myself, but oneupmanship is silly. Either way, we've both evidently seen a lot of garbage trucks. :)
What I haven't seen myself (although that doesn't mean it doesn't happen) is a garbage truck backing while trash is being picked up, thrown into the truck, etc. I've only seen cases in which the truck is either stationary--as in the guys get out, the truck moves up the road, and the guys collect everything in the intervening space, then the truck repeats, maybe 50 meters or so at a time--or the truck moves very slowly forward as the collectors pick up and throw in the bags.
I merely assumed, since I've never seen anyone outside of a garbage truck while it's backing, that the driver had only his mirrors to rely on and could unfortunately have easily missed seeing such a small kid. Another thing that I haven't seen, BTW, is garbage trucks with cameras in the rear, as some other trucks and even POVs have these days. They may exist, but I haven't seen any myself, yet. Although the vehicles I've driven with rear-view cameras weren't ideal, they were certainly better than just the mirrors, on big trucks, at least. Perhaps installing them should be a priority, to at least somewhat minimize the risk of such accidents in the future.
All the technology in the world, though, can't compete with parents making the utmost effort to keep their kids safe, particularly such little ones.
BalefireApr. 23, 2013 - 01:35PM JST
@moondog I've seen lots of garbage trucks with nobody riding on the back. Some of the larger ones have sufficient seats in the cab for the whole crew. I've seen trucks of widely varying sizes and shapes and crew numbers, both in rural and in urban Japan. I don't know, but I assume that the style of truck and size of crew are determined by the route, and perhaps also by the budget of the ward/town that's paying for it.
Having seen a variety of streets and roads in various parts of the city and country, some very narrow and with terrible visibility due to utility poles, parked cars, signs, trees, etc., and seen too many small kids left unsupervised, it's unfortunately very easy for me to imagine this sort of thing happening. I'm surprised that it doesn't happen more often, actually.
I tend to blame the parent(s) in this case because the kids were both too young to be playing unsupervised where there's any traffic risk (which is pretty much everywhere except for really large parks). Unfortunately the driver is going to be held responsible because that's the way it works in Japan: the driver has to avoid everything, regardless of practicality, and extenuating circumstances don't help much except perhaps in sentencing.
If you're a parent or otherwise responsible for little kids, please keep an eye on them. If you're a driver, expect the unexpected and don't make assumptions based on common sense. It's not all that common.
Stay safe, folks.
BalefireApr. 22, 2013 - 09:06AM JST
No, you're not; I find it very sad, too. Pathetic, really.
I was thinking the same thing. That sounds more like what you'd expect to hear the prosecutor saying. Perhaps it's a mistranslation, but I don't see how that could happen. Actually, if it's accurate, Harada deserves no pity for the crimes but some pity for the quality of his defense lawyer, IMO.
Posted in: Businessman suspected of slashing up to 1,000 tires in effort to meet women
BalefireApr. 19, 2013 - 07:27PM JST
@noriyosan73 although what you say about escalator safety may be true, in this case it was the stairs, not an escalator.
Particularly at rush hour, but also at other times, station staircases can be dangerous. Often they're slippery, sometimes the anti-slip material is worn or missing, sometimes other passengers are in a hurry and jostle someone at just the wrong time.
Many years ago, I was going down a long station staircase when a small kid suddenly darted across the step just below and in front of me. Trying to avoid stepping on him, I lost my balance and tumbled down the stairs. I ended up with a deep puncture wound in my elbow (apparently from the corner of a step) that narrowly missed severing nerves or major veins. It was lucky, though, regardless of the stitches and long healing time that were required, because had I fallen into someone below me as the person in the article did, I might very well have injured them badly, or even contributed to throwing them in front of a train at the platform below.
I wasn't pleased at the outcome, or with the child, but even at the time I was relieved that I hadn't injured anyone but myself. If that sort of accident happens above and behind you on the stairs, there's not a lot that you can do to avoid it.
@smithinjapan I agree completely; I feel very fortunate to have avoided such a horrible fate myself, and have sympathy for both the victim who died and for the man who unwittingly caused her death.
Posted in: Woman dies after being hit by man falling down station staircase
BalefireApr. 17, 2013 - 03:43PM JST
@owenfinn I quite agree with much of what you say about the danger of cars compared to that of bicycles. Nevertheless, older folks who have recently taken to riding bicycles, and do so inexpertly, do represent a menace both to themselves and to motorists who may have to resort to extreme measures to avoid them. If it were only a case of slowing down, that would be fine. It's often a case of having to swerve or brake suddenly because of the sudden appearance of the bike without the rider having looked for--or even considered, in some cases--the possible presence of a car in the road. And I didn't say "in the lane", which is fine with me...I said "in the middle of the road", and that's just what I meant.
I don't know how many kids have been killed by bicyclists, but in 2011, according to this, six pedestrians and one other cyclist were killed by bicyclists:
Obviously less than those killed by cars, but significant nonetheless.
This is a little older, but also contains some points of interest:
Posted in: 9-year-old boy run over, killed in Kanagawa
BalefireApr. 16, 2013 - 03:16PM JST
@Mirai Hayashi You're quite right about who is likely to be held responsible in most accidents involving pedestrians and cars. The basic approach has been for many years--decades that I'm personally aware of--that regardless of whether the pedestrian is crossing against a red light, runs out from between parked cars into the street, dashes from a building exit directly into the (no sidewalk) road, or whatever, it is the motorist's responsibility to be driving in such a way and at such a speed as to be able to avoid hitting them. In many cases with narrow roads, poor visibility corners, etc., this is highly impractical, but that's what you have to be prepared for if you want to drive in Japan.
There was a case a few years back in which a kid ran out between parked cars and went under the back wheels of a vehicle (a truck, if memory serves) after the front of the vehicle had passed...the driver got blamed for that one, even though he could hardly have avoided it. We don't know, but maybe this "I heard a thump..." case happened like that.
It may be changing a bit with the increased attention to scofflaw cyclists, but traditionally bicycle riders are essentially supposed to follow the traffic laws applicable to vehicle operators, but have been regarded as pedestrians when involved with accidents with motor vehicles. As the average age goes up and more and more people are becoming too old too drive, they have been switching to bicycles in rural and semi-rural areas. They represent a new menace with shaky balance, slow reaction time, failure to check before zipping out into intersections, riding in the middle of the road, sudden turns across the street between intersections, etc., and much of this applies to elderly pedestrians as well, but at least they usually can't move as fast on foot as they do on a bicycle.
With the distances involved for shopping, visiting clinics, or whatever, especially in the country, if you can't drive a car then a bicycle is pretty much necessary: there tends not to be a lot within walking distance, and public transportation is largely inadequate/impractical. That's particularly true for old folks, but also often for kids in many places these days.
Certainly in crowded cities, but also in the country, the risk of hitting pedestrians or cyclists has been steadily increasing, and regardless of extenuating circumstances, if you're a motorist, you are almost certainly going to be held responsible. There's a reason that even private vehicle drivers get hit with "professional negligence" charges in accidents: having that license makes you a "professional", even if you're not a commercial driver.
None of this, of course, excuses inattention, speeding, texting, reading, applying makeup, etc., while driving. If you're a driver, be aware of the risk or don't drive. If you're a pedestrian or a cyclist, be careful out there.
And RIP, young boy, regardless of who was at fault in this case.
Jun. 19, 2013 - 07:34PM JST
So then dog if that is the case then what is being reported on this site…
Posted in: Japan's May trade deficit widens on import costs
Jun. 19, 2013 - 07:23PM JST
So is this basically a copy of US NRA regulations? Are there any notable differences?
Posted in: Nuclear watchdog outlines new safety requirements for nuclear plants
Jun. 19, 2013 - 07:17PM JST
He ain't lyin'! Think it about it - Al Qaida and other terrorist groups have not…
Posted in: At least 50 terror plots foiled by U.S. spy programs: NSA chief
Jun. 19, 2013 - 07:11PM JST
I find that in most instances you get from a marriage what you give in,…
Posted in: Middle-aged males suffering from epidemic of wife-induced disease
"suicides drops below 30,000 for first time in 15 years"
That's nearly half a million people.…
Posted in: No. of suicides drops below 30,000 for first time in 15 years