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Tokushima woman becomes first Japanese fatality linked to ‘Pokemon Go’

Kyodo, Staff Report

Meta

A woman run over by a distracted driver in Tokushima Prefecture is believed to be Japan’s first death related to “Pokemon Go,” police have announced.

The suspect, 39-year-old farmer Keiji Goo, told police he was playing the immersive smartphone game while driving in the city of Tokushima on Tuesday when he hit two female pedestrians at around 7:35 p.m.

The accident killed Sachiko Nakanishi, 72, and left Kayoko Ikawa, 60, badly injured. The two women were trying to cross the road at a point where there was no pedestrian crossing, Tokushima police said.

Goo, who had been on his way home from a local farm cooperative after dropping off produce from his farm, initially told investigators he was looking at the clock on his smartphone, police said.

But he later confessed that he was playing “Pokemon Go” and wasn’t paying full attention while behind the wheel, they said.

According to the National Police Agency, this is the nation’s first fatal accident involving the game, which has been linked to accidents and crimes around the world and is raising similar concerns in Japan.

In the month since the game’s release here on July 22, there have been 79 traffic accidents linked to “Pokemon Go” nationwide, the NPA said.

Ahead of the release, the National Center of Incident Readiness and Strategy for Cybersecurity (NISC) issued a nine-point illustrated warning on Twitter and Line warning against problems that could arise while playing the GPS-based internet game.

The Japan Railway Group also expressed concern about the potential for accidents at train stations.

Nintendo has since added a screen warning to the app itself, warning players not to play it while around trains or in fast-moving vehicles.