Regarding the April 25 Kyodo article “Mom, firm in crane case ordered to pay“: It seems that some measure of justice has been served in the case of the epileptic driver who killed six schoolchildren in 2011. Accidents are dicey situations that force us to confront the enigmatic intersection between intention and result.
Obviously, primary responsibility rests with the driver, but the settlement against the firm and the mother raises some serious issues. I am not arguing that the firm bears no responsibility, but it illustrates the incoherence of government policy.
Laws are passed that make hiring of people with disabilities mandatory, then the courts proceed to punish those firms when a worker with a disability causes an accident.
In response to the charge that the company “failed to supervise him,” it is not clear how increased supervision would have prevented this accident. Epileptic fits do not respond to the presence or absence of authority figures. A more accurate charge would have been that the company “assigned him inappropriate work duties.” The most egregious part of the settlement, however, is the judgment that the mother must pay. The driver was 28 years old at the time of the accident — well into legal adulthood.
Even if he lived with his mother, parents have no legal power over their children past the age of 20.
The concept of punishing people for the crimes committed by their adult blood relatives is antithetical to a free society — more suited to a nation like North Korea than Japan.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.