National

Monument in Ikebukuro unveiled to mark 2019 car crash that killed mother and child

Kyodo

A monument was unveiled Saturday to honor the victims of the fatal Ikebukuro car crash in April 2019 caused by a former top bureaucrat.

The monument to Mana Matsunaga, 31, and her 3-year-old daughter Riko was set up in the district by the Toshima Ward Office at a nearby park.

"May no person ever be deprived again of a peaceful, ordinary life by a traffic accident," it says in English and Japanese.

The pair were killed on April 19 when Kozo Iizuka, then 87 and former chief of the now defunct Agency of Industrial Science and Technology, ran a red light after mistaking the gas pedal for the brake and plowed into pedestrians at a crossing in front of Higashi Ikebukuro Station. The crash killed the mother and daughter, who were on a bicycle, and injured nine others, according to his indictment.

"I lost the lives of my beloved wife and daughter. In a car accident, you can become a victim or a perpetrator in an instant. I want to continue to raise people's awareness so that no one else will feel the same way," Takuya Matsunaga, 33, said at the unveiling ceremony.

Police officers were among the participants in the ceremony who placed flowers at the site.

The sphere-shaped monument is designed to resemble a bud and was installed with the help of public donations worth more than ¥10 million ($94,000).

The ceremony was initially scheduled for April to mark a year since the accident but was postponed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Prosecutors indicted Iizuka in February on a charge of negligence resulting in death and injury amid public criticism that apparent favoritism had allowed him to escape arrest in the case. He was not convicted.

The accident stirred debate on how to prevent accidents involving elderly drivers in the nation's rapidly graying society.

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