RIO DE JANEIRO – A Japanese-Brazilian man indicted in Brazil over a fatal hit-and-run case in Japan in 1999 has told police he fled the accident scene out of fear of racial discrimination, an interrogation document indicated Wednesday.
“As foreign ‘dekasegi’ laborers of Japanese descent are strongly discriminated against, I felt scared and ran away,” Milton Noboru Higaki, 31, said in the document. Dekasegi refers to people coming to urban areas in Japan seeking jobs.
His trial is scheduled to start Feb. 6 in a Brazilian court.
Higaki told police he regretted fleeing the scene after hitting Mayumi Ochiai, 16, on a road in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, on the evening of July 26, 1999.
Ochiai, a local high school girl, died in the accident. The document suggests Higaki has yet to apologize to her family.
Higaki, who was indicted by Brazilian prosecutors last week, said he felt “a shock on the left side of the car” while driving.
According to the document, Higaki, seeing people approaching the accident site, became frightened about the potential consequences.
The document suggested Higaki tried to escape the charge, saying he removed the license plate from the car when he abandoned it after the incident.
Higaki’s indictment was the first time Japan asked Brazil to investigate and prosecute someone allegedly involved in a crime in Japan, on its behalf overseas.