• Kyodo, Staff Report


Seven people were injured Saturday after a taxi driven by a 75-year-old man veered onto a sidewalk and plowed into a crowd watching a street music performance in Nagoya, police said.

Four men in their 20s to 60s and three women in their 20s to 30s were hurt in the accident, which happened at around 9:25 p.m. near Kanayama Station.

The vehicle mounted the sidewalk and hit people gathered in the station square for the music performance, police and witnesses said.

Then, while people were attending those in the crowd who had been injured, the taxi suddenly backed up, hitting and injuring more people, one of the witnesses said.

The taxi driver, Katsuhiro Komori, was arrested and told the police that he does not remember what happened, police said.

A co-worker of Komori said he had never heard of him causing an accident and that the veteran driver did not have any problems at work.

In the wake of a slew of fatal accidents involving elderly drivers, the government plans to create a new driver’s license system that limits senior citizens to cars with safety features such as automatic brakes, sources said in June.

The National Police Agency, the land ministry and other related ministries are holding discussions to work out the details, which will be released by the end of the current fiscal year.

The new license system will target drivers aged 75 years or older, who are required to take a cognitive assessment test when they renew their licenses. Alongside the system, the government will discuss ways to popularize safety-enhanced vehicles. It will also promote measures to provide senior citizens with sufficient transport options.

According to the National Police Agency, there were 460 fatal traffic accidents in Japan last year caused by drivers aged 75 or over. The proportion of such accidents among all fatal accidents increased from 8.7 percent in 2008 to 14.8 percent in 2018.

The agency, which commissioned three panels of experts to consider ways to prevent accidents caused by elderly drivers, released a report in April. The report cited a need to consider introducing a driver’s license that limits drivers to certain types of vehicles at specific times and in certain areas.

In April, a car driven by Kozo Iizuka, 88, a former government official, hit and killed a 31-year-old woman and her 3-year-old daughter in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district. Six other passersby were injured in the incident.

In June, a car being driven by an 81-year-old man sped through an intersection in the city of Fukuoka, crashing into five other vehicles. The man and his wife died in the accident and seven other people were injured.

In both cases, it is believed that the drivers may have mistaken the throttle for the brake pedal.

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