• Jiji


Procedures started Tuesday to imprison a 90-year-old former senior government official convicted over a high-profile accident in Tokyo in 2019 in which his runaway car killed a woman and her young daughter and injured other people.

After being summoned by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office, Kozo Iizuka, former head of the now-defunct Agency of Industrial Science and Technology, was taken to the Tokyo Detention House in Katsushika Ward.

On Sept. 2, the Tokyo District Court sentenced Iizuka to five years in prison, without suspension, for negligent driving resulting in death and injury. The ruling became final on Sept. 17 as neither the defense nor the prosecution filed an appeal.

In a statement released through a supporter Tuesday, Iizuka said, “Looking at the evidence (submitted in my trial) and the court ruling, I realized that my car ran out of control because I mistakenly confused the brake with the accelerator due to my negligence.” It was the first time that Iizuka, who pleaded not guilty in his trial, had admitted fault.

“I deeply apologize” to the family of the two victims — Mana Matsunaga, 31, and her daughter, Riko, 3 — and people who suffered injuries in the accident, he said, adding, “I will serve the sentence to reflect on my negligence.”

The prison to which Iizuka will be sent will be decided after he undergoes a health checkup and other necessary procedures at the Tokyo Detention House.

Takuya Matsunaga, the 35-year-old husband of Mana, commented: “It’s up to Iizuka if the day will come when he can pay for his crime in a true sense. Although he is set to be imprisoned, it is not that no more traffic accidents will happen. I sincerely wish that lives in the future will be protected.”

According to the ruling, Iizuka mistakenly kept pressing the accelerator instead of the brake pedal when he was driving in the busy Ikebukuro district of Tokyo’s Toshima Ward on April 19, 2019, causing his car to accelerate to up to 96 kilometers per hour. The vehicle ran a red light and hurtled into a cross walk, fatally hitting Mana and Riko, and injuring nine other people.

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