National / Crime & Legal

Mother of 2017 Kanagawa road-rage victim calls for harsher penalties after latest case

Kyodo

The mother of a man killed two years ago in a road-rage incident in Kanagawa Prefecture is calling for harsher penalties against offenders in the wake of a recent high-profile case.

“A tragic accident may be forgotten and a similar thing occurs again. I believe it is necessary to make laws stricter to prevent road rage,” Fumiko Hagiyama, 79, said recently.

An Aug. 10 incident in which Fumio Miyazaki, 43, is suspected of reckless driving and assaulting another driver has revived memories of the June 5, 2017, road-rage attack that led to the deaths of Hagiyama’s 45-year-old son Yoshihisa and his 39-year-old wife Yuka on the Tomei Expressway in Kanagawa Prefecture.

Miyazaki, who was arrested Monday after being put on a wanted list, is alleged to have forced a man to pull over on the Joban Expressway in Ibaraki Prefecture and punched him through the open window.

Video captured by a dashboard camera in the victim’s car has been widely reported and shared online, together with footage of the suspect resisting arrest on a street in Osaka. Miyazaki has reportedly confessed to the charges.

The case against Miyazaki includes reckless driving, as he allegedly switched lanes repeatedly and braked abruptly in front of the victim’s car over a stretch of several kilometers before forcing him off the road.

Police are investigating Miyazaki’s possible involvement in other incidents last month in which the same type of sports utility vehicle engaged in similar aggressive driving in Aichi and Shizuoka prefectures.

Watching the Ibaraki road-rage footage on TV news, Hagiyama said, “One wrong step and the victim of the latest incident could have faced the same calamity. He must have felt scared.”

In the Kanagawa incident, Kazuho Ishibashi, 27, was indicted on charges of dangerous driving resulting in assault and death, after prosecutors ultimately applied stricter charges than at the time of arrest amid a strong public outcry.

According to the ruling of the Yokohama District Court, the married couple died on the highway after Ishibashi blocked a lane of the road by stopping his car in front of their vehicle, which was then hit from behind by a truck. Their two daughters also sustained injuries.

Last December, the court sentenced Ishibashi to an 18-year prison term. He has appealed to a high court.