• Kyodo

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The Nagoya District Court on Wednesday sentenced a bus driver with Nagoya Railroad Co. to a suspended 10-month prison term for pretending to be the driver of a bus that was being operated by an employee whose license had expired.

The ruling at the court’s Okazaki branch fell short of the prosecutors’ call for a one-year prison term. Presiding Judge Takehiko Hori said it was difficult for the driver, Masahiko Hiraiwa, to reject his superiors’ orders. His sentence was suspended for two years.

But the judges said that although Hiraiwa was pushed to make a decision immediately, he was still liable for his involvement in the coverup.

Hiraiwa, 37, stood in for Hiroshi Kawaguchi, 38, and on the orders of his superiors, pretended that he had been driving a bus that was operated by Kawaguchi during police questioning.

Kawaguchi has accepted an 18-month prison term, suspended for four years, on a separate charge. He had failed to renew his driver’s license after it expired in October 2001.

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