The transport ministry announced Friday it will increase its inspection of train driver education and testing.

The move follows the April 25 crash of an overspeeding JR Fukuchiyama Line commuter train into a condominium complex in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture. The derailment claimed 107 lives and left more than 500 people injured.

The train had entered a sharp curve well above the speed limit, prompting questions about the ability of the driver, who was trying to make up lost time. He died in the crash.

“Currently, the state can only revoke a license when a driver causes an accident,” but the government should be allowed to take pre-emptive action, including revoking licenses for other reasons, said Atsushi Kawai from the ministry’s Railway Bureau.

The Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry issues train driver licenses, but the railways are responsible for training and testing.

Big railways have their own ministry-certified training facilities.

Prior to the April 25 crash, JR West had been putting additional psychological pressure on drivers through “re-education,” in which erring motormen were forced to reflect on their mistakes and vow never to repeat them if they wanted to retain their jobs. Under the program, employees were also ordered to weed fields or stand on station platforms to greet or send off trains.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.