For the past several weeks, media organizations in Japan have been obsessed with a road rage incident that happened in Ibaraki Prefecture on Aug. 10, when a 43-year-old man forcibly stopped another driver on the Joban Expressway and assaulted him as he sat in his car.

The incident drew national attention after the TV Asahi obtained video footage of the assault that had been captured by a dashboard camera. The station aired the sensational footage, along with an interview with the victim, and the rest of the media picked up on the story. Eventually, the head of the National Public Safety Commission was compelled to comment, saying that the assault was outrageous, and the suspected aggressor became the object of a national manhunt. He was arrested more than a week later in Osaka.

Such incidents are called "aori unten" in Japanese, a term that covers a wide range of dangerous driving behaviors, from tailgating to relentless honking to reckless lane changes. These actions are not rare but, until now, they have not been treated very seriously by the authorities, despite the fact that in 2017 a similar incident led to the death of two people on the Tomei Expressway. In his regular entertainment column for the Tokyo Shimbun, TV Asahi commentator Toru Tamakawa says the increased use of dashboard cameras and, more significantly, the increased use of such footage on TV programs have prodded the police into action. He thinks that more than 10 years ago, it was difficult for the police to indict a suspect in a road rage incident when victims pressed charges. It was the victim's word against the alleged aggressor's if there was no visual proof or witnesses.