National / Crime & Legal

Japanese couple attacked in Honolulu face $50,000 in medical costs

AP, Staff Report

A Japanese couple are facing $50,000 in medical costs after being assaulted in a public restroom at a Honolulu park, a Hawaii visitors’ assistance organization said.

The couple were attacked May 28 at the Mother Waldron Neighborhood Park, leading the Japanese Consulate to issue a warning the next day for tourists to avoid public bathrooms in Kakaako, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

The man was hit in the face after entering the restroom, said Jessica Lani Rich, president of the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii. Hearing a noise, his wife then entered the bathroom and was choked, causing her to briefly pass out, Rich said. Honolulu police had reported the encounter to the society.

The couple came upon a group of men injecting drugs inside the bathroom, according to the consulate’s warning, written in Japanese. Both the man and woman were punched in the face, leaving them with broken teeth, the warning stated.

The couple returned to Japan last week.

“It’s really sad when our visitors are assaulted when they come to Hawaii to have a wonderful, dream vacation,” Rich said.

The group has offered to solicit donations to help pay for the couple’s medical expenses, Rich said.

“Their biggest concern is their hospital expense,” Rich said. The Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii “does not pay hospital bills, but we are trying to do what we can to raise money.”

The city closed the park Tuesday for maintenance. The closure was announced before the attack occurred, and it is scheduled to reopen next month.

William Ammons, a member of the Kakaako/Ala Moana Neighborhood Board, called the warning by the Consulate General of Japan “pretty serious,” the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. “Public safety is the foremost concern of people who live anywhere, and especially for tourists,” Ammons was quoted as saying. “You don’t want people feeling unsafe when they come here. If it rises to the level of the Japanese Consulate warning people not to go to a park restroom, that’s of great concern.”

The park lies in downtown Honolulu, a few blocks from both City Hall and the Ala Moana shopping center.

A larger park in the area, the Kakaako Waterfront Park, was closed last October following a series of dog bites, fires and vandalism attributed to an estimated 180 homeless people living along the Kakaako shoreline, according to the Star-Advertiser. It reopened in January after the state hired a private security team to patrol the grounds constantly.