• Kyodo

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A court on Monday sentenced a 53-year-old woman to 4½ years in prison in prison for causing a traffic accident that killed two toddlers last May in western Japan.

According to the ruling, Fumiko Shintate was convicted of negligent driving resulting in death and injury after she turned at an intersection in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, on May 8 and collided with a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction.

The car hit by Shintate’s careened into a group of preschoolers, leaving two dead and injuring 14 others, including three nursery school teachers.

While her lawyer sought leniency, presiding Judge Naoki Onishi of the Otsu District Court said her failure to pay attention to oncoming traffic should be considered seriously negligent.

The judge also said her pledge to never again drive a car was not sufficient reason to reduce the sentence.

Prosecutors had sought a prison term of 5½ years.

Before the sentencing, Shintate told the court, “The outcome might have been different had the speed of the other vehicle been slower or if there was a fence at the site of the accident, but I think I’m the one to blame.” Prosecutors said she had not sufficiently repented.

The ruling was originally scheduled to be handed down on Jan. 16 but was postponed after Shintate expressed a different opinion about her culpability for the accident in a December TV interview.

Her lawyer argued that the other vehicle’s driver, who was not charged over the incident, was partially at fault.

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