KYOTO – A 48-year-old crane truck driver was found guilty Tuesday in the Kyoto District Court over a fatal accident linked to playing the popular smartphone game “Pokemon Go.”
Hiroki Negami was sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for five years, for negligence resulting in death. He was playing the game when his vehicle fatally struck a 39-year-old woman on a motor scooter in Nagaokakyo, Kyoto Prefecture, on Sept. 12.
“The negligence was grave and entailed great danger,” presiding Judge Masaya Okuyama said. “The defendant was also aware of other fatal accidents related to the ‘Pokemon Go’ game having taken place.”
But Okuyama said the court handed down a suspended sentence because Negami “expressed a sense of remorse and pledged to never drive again.”
According to the ruling, Negami was playing the game while stopped at an intersection and hit the idling scooter in front of his vehicle after setting off again without sufficiently checking his surroundings.
Prosecutors had sought 18 months in prison. But Negami sought a suspended sentence, saying he was playing the game only when his vehicle was stopped at the intersection and not when it was moving.
Following the July release of the hugely popular game, a number of traffic accidents related to drivers playing the game have occurred across Japan. Among them was an incident in which a 9-year-old boy was killed after being struck by a truck driver in Ichinomiya, Aichi Prefecture, in October.
A game-playing driver was convicted of causing a fatal accident in Tokushima Prefecture, as was another in Gifu Prefecture.