89-Year-Old Man Pleads Not Guilty over Fatal Tokyo Car Crash

Society

Tokyo, Oct. 8 (Jiji Press)--An 89-year-old former senior Japanese government official pleaded not guilty in the first hearing of his trial on Thursday over a high-profile fatal runaway car crash in Tokyo last year.

“I didn’t keep hitting the gas pedal. The car ran out of control after something went wrong in it,” Kozo Iizuka said at Tokyo District Court, pleading not guilty to charges of negligent driving resulting in death and injury.

The crash killed Mana Matsunaga, then 31, and her 3-year-old daughter, Riko, and injured nine others after Iizuka’s car ignored a red light and ran into a crosswalk in the busy Ikebukuro district in April 2019, according to the indictment.

“I sincerely offer my apology to Matsunaga and bereaved family members,” Iizuka said. “I have no words when I think of the sorrow and pain of losing the two loved ones,” he said, bowing to Mana’s 34-year-old husband, Takuya.

The crash had a great impact on Japanese society. The bereaved family collected signatures from more than 390,000 people across the country seeking harsh punishment for Iizuka. Many elderly people have voluntarily returned their driver’s licenses.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press