KYOTO – A 47-year-old man charged in a fatal Kyoto traffic accident in September was allegedly playing the smartphone game “Pokemon Go” when his crane hit a minibike, court documents revealed Thursday.
The driver, Hiroki Negami, is being tried for alleged careless driving resulting in death over the Sept. 12 accident in Nagaokakyo, Kyoto Prefecture, which killed 39-year-old Mari Himori.
Prosecutors allege that Negami was playing the game at an intersection and started his vehicle without checking his surroundings sufficiently. His crane struck Himori, dragging her for about 130 meters and killing her, they said in his trial.
Following the July release of the hugely popular augmented-reality game, a slew of traffic accidents related to drivers playing “Pokemon Go” have occurred across Japan. These include another fatal accident in which a 9-year-old boy was struck by a truck driver in Ichinomiya, Aichi Prefecture, in October.
The family of the boy is calling for tougher penalties against smartphone use while driving.
The Aichi case also led to a change in the software in early November which disables the game when vehicles are traveling over a certain speed.
The change took effect globally on Nov. 7 after the Ichinomiya Municipal Government and the prefectural police demanded that the game’s maker Niantic Inc. take action following the boy’s death.
The 46-year-old father of the victim noted that the game can still be played at intersections and on the street. He urged the operator to introduce more measures to ensure players’ safety.