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Japan expressway operator to face lawsuit over fatal tunnel collapse

JIJI

The families of five people killed when an expressway tunnel ceiling collapsed in December plan to sue Central Nippon Expressway Co., or NEXCO Central, for damages, their lawyers said Tuesday.

The accident happened Dec. 2 in the Sasago Tunnel in Yamanashi Prefecture on the Tokyo-bound lanes of the Chuo Expressway.

Concrete ceiling slabs collapsed, crushing vehicles and killing nine people.

In their damages lawsuit, to be filed May 15 with the Yokohama District Court, the relatives will claim NEXCO Central was negligent

They believe the company failed to instruct a subsidiary to carry out full inspections of the tunnel, including hammer tests and close visual examinations, when it commissioned the subsidiary last September, the lawyers said.

The relatives initially considered suing the government as well for its failure to supervise the expressway operator, but they decided against this as they feared a lengthy process, according to the lawyers.

  • Spudator

    The relatives initially considered suing the government as well . . . but they decided against this as they feared a lengthy process. . . .

    The length of time court cases can drag on for in Japan, especially those involving the government, is staggering. It can sometimes take years and years for plaintiffs to get justice. I recall a case a while back involving a group of residents somewhere in Japan suing the government over either aircraft noise or expressway noise—sorry, I forget the details. It took, if I remember rightly, at least 15 years for the group to get a final ruling. This is simply unacceptable. As they say, “justice delayed is justice denied.”

    Yet again Japan, a supposedly advanced nation, shows itself to be completely backward in terms of its institutions. Justice, as a means of upholding the fundamental rights of citizens, is an essential component of a modern democracy. If citizens cannot expect justice from their country when they need it, their country has failed them utterly and its judicial institutions cannot be considered fit for purpose.