Two Japanese men injured in Brussels bombings named; one remains in coma

Kyodo, Staff Report

A government source has identified one of the two Japanese nationals injured in Tuesday’s terror attacks in Brussels as Yu Takita, who was hospitalized with serious injuries sustained in the subway blast.

Takita, who is in his 30s, is believed to be at a Brussels hospital after staff earlier in the day said they were treating a critically injured Japanese man who is in a coma.

While it has not been confirmed, another government source said there were only two Japanese nationals with confirmed injuries and Kyodo has interviewed the other victim.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Thursday that although the man in hospital remained unconscious, he was in a stable condition.

Takita is believed to have been working for Global Federation of Insurance Associations in Brussels after transferring from the Life Insurance Association of Japan.

The other man, Minoru Hino, 53, is an employee with Brussels-based travel agency Japan P.I. Travel and suffered light injuries when the roof of the subway car he was in caved in as a result of the bombing.

“I feel I barely escaped death,” Hino told Kyodo News Wednesday. “I was engulfed in smoke after a very large noise. I still have difficulty hearing with ruptured eardrums.”

The three-car train was leaving Maelbeek metro station, near the EU headquarters, when a blast occurred on the train. Hino said he was seated at the front, right-hand side of the middle carriage.

A boom echoed through the railcars out of the blue, Hino recalled. The ceiling of his carriage then collapsed, hitting his head and right foot.

He said he immediately escaped from the train with other passengers and stepped onto the far end of the station platform before rushing up a dimly lit escalator that had stopped moving.

“(The place was) full of smoke, and I couldn’t stop coughing for a while after inhaling it,” Hino said, adding that broken glass was scattered everywhere.

He was later treated at a hospital for his injuries, including ruptured eardrums.

When interviewed by Kyodo News, he had a cut on his nose, his forehead was covered with a bandage and his right foot was injured, causing him to limp.

Hino said he thought of taking a car to his workplace instead of the subway that morning after learning of the earlier attack at the airport. He said he now regrets he chose to take his usual route, believing that nothing would happen.

His wife was temporarily in Japan when the blast occurred. The two have lived in Belgium for 22 years, though their children now live in Japan.

Hino said he sent his wife a message on smartphone app Line, telling her he was OK.

Japan P.I. Travel President Isamu Kanto said he was relieved to know Hino was safe.

“It made me shudder when I thought he could have died if he was even a meter closer (to the blast),” Kanto noted.