• Kyodo, Staff Report

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A car rammed a group of pedestrians while exiting a parking lot in the trendy Kichijoji area of western Tokyo on Friday, injuring a 2-year-old boy and six other people, police and rescue workers said.

The 85-year-old driver was arrested on the spot.

“I may have stepped on the wrong pedal, but I don’t remember clearly,” the driver was quoted by the police as saying.

None of the injured lost consciousness after the accident, which occurred at around 2 p.m. at a crowded intersection in front of the Tokyu Department Store in Musashino about 300 meters northwest of Kichijoji Station.

The driver, from nearby Koganei, was held on suspicion of negligence resulting in injuries. Neither he nor his female passenger were hurt.

According to the police, the car plowed into the pedestrians after leaving an underground parking lot. It stopped only after hitting a guardrail on the other side of Kichijoji Avenue. A few more meters to the left and he would have barreled straight into the crowded Sun Road shopping arcade.

In recent years, the rate of fatal traffic accidents caused by people 75 or older has been climbing in Japan, though the overall rate is on a downtrend. In 2016, seniors were responsible for around 10 percent of all accidents that resulted in a fatality.

Japan has begun implementing a stricter cognitive function test for elderly drivers who renew their licenses to curb the uptick in serious accidents. The government has also been encouraging elderly drivers to voluntarily give up their licenses.

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