• Kyodo News


After releasing raw sewage into a stream for four decades, East Japan Railway Co. has finally put a plug in its faulty station toilet in Tokyo this week by fixing its plumbing.

The remodeled toilet near the south exit of JR Oji Station in Kita Ward reopened Thursday after it was shut down early last month following the discovery of unsuitable piping.

During the railway’s recent check on station facilities, a sewage pipe from the toilet was found to have been erroneously connected to rain-water drainage, JR East said.

As a result, untreated toilet sewage was channeled into nearby Shakujii River, which originates in Kodaira in western Tokyo and connects to the Sumida River in Kita Ward.

The toilet was set up in the late 1960s when JR East was still part of state-owned Japan National Railway, and its piping system had never been changed in the past 40 years, JR East said.

The Shakujii has long been labeled as one of Tokyo’s “smelliest” rivers, although it is not clear whether the Oji Station toilet is the main culprit.

The Water Works Bureau of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is also accused of negligence.

It was revealed earlier that the bureau had become aware of the erroneous piping during its June 2007 check but left the problem unattended.

Pedestrian crushed

CHIBA (Kyodo) An unmanned vacuum truck in a sloping parking lot started moving and fatally hit a female pedestrian this week in Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, according to police.

Junko Takahashi, 63, was confirmed dead at a hospital after she was “sandwiched” between the truck and a roadside fence at around 11:55 a.m. Wednesday, the police said.

The truck driver, Michio Kanai, 70, has been taken into custody for his negligent parking. He was quoted as telling investigators, “I forgot to pull the side brake.”

Kanai works for a local waste-processing company on a nonregular basis, the police said.

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