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2007 (A) 1634

2010.05.31
2007 (A) 1634
Keishu Vol. 64, No. 4
Decision concerning the case wherein, with regard to the accident in which a number of people who gathered at the site of a fireworks display were killed or injured as they fell over one another on the footbridge that linked the park where the fireworks display was held with the nearest station, the court found the community safety officer of police, who was in the position to direct police officers in crowd control on site, and the branch office manager of the security services company, who was in the position to supervise security guards on site, guilty of the crime of causing death and injury through negligence in the pursuit of social activities
Case charged for causing death and injury through negligence in the pursuit of social activities
Decision of the First Petty Bench, dismissed
Osaka High Court, Judgment of April 6, 2007
With regard to the accident in which a number of people who gathered at the site of a fireworks display were killed or injured as they fell over one another on the footbridge that linked the park where the fireworks display was held with the nearest station, given the factual circumstances of the case (detailed in the judgment) where both the community safety officer of police, who was in the position to direct police officers in crowd control on site, and the branch office manager of the security services company, who was in the position to supervise security guards on site, could have easily predicted the occurrence of such accident and could have avoided the occurrence of the accident by implementing control of the incoming of people to the footbridge with the help of a riot police team or other measures, both persons are judged to have been negligent in fulfilling their official duty of care to prevent the occurrence of the accident and therefore they are found guilty of the crime of causing death and injury through negligence in the pursuit of social activities.
First sentence of Article 211 of the Penal Code (prior to the revision by Act No. 138 of 2001)
A person who fails to exercise due care required in the pursuit of social activities and thereby causes the death or injury of another shall be punished by imprisonment with or without work for not more than five years or a fine of not more than 500,000 yen. The same shall apply to a person who, through gross negligence, causes the death or injury of another.
The final appeal is dismissed.
I. Determination on the reasons for final appeal
The reasons for final appeal argued by the defense counsels for Accused A, NAKAHARA Kazuyuki and SANAGI Hideki, are assertions of errors in fact finding or inappropriateness in sentencing, and the reasons for final appeal argued by the defense counsels for Accused B, ODA Koji and SUZUKI Ichiro, including the reason alleging violation of the Constitution, are in effect assertions of unappealable violation of laws and regulations, errors in fact finding or inappropriateness in sentencing, and none of these reasons for final appeal can be regarded as a reason for final appeal permissible under Article 405 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

II. Determination by this court's own authority
Having examined the arguments, we make determination by this court's own authority regarding whether or not the accused persons are guilty for the crime of causing death and injury through negligence in the pursuit of social activities.
1. According to the findings of the judgment in prior instance and of the judgment in first instance affirmed by the former, as well as the case records, the outline of the facts of the case is as follows.
(1) The 32nd Akashi Summer Festival was held in Akashi City, Hyogo Prefecture, on July 20 and 21, 2001, and on the second day of this festival, a fireworks display and other events were held in the Okura Kaigan Park from around 7:45 p.m. to around 8:30 p.m. A large number of spectators who came to the site were concentrated on the footbridge known as Asagiri Footbridge, which links the nearest station, Asagiri Station of West Japan Railway Company, to Okura Kaigan Park, and the footbridge was overcrowded with such people stuck there. In addition, after the fireworks display ended, people heading for Okura Kaigan Park from Asagiri Station and those heading for Asagiri Station from the park converged and were pushing each other on the footbridge. These circumstances caused strong pressure on the people, and at around 8:48 or 8:49 p.m. on that day, a phenomenon generally called an avalanche of people, wherein a number of people fell over one another, occurred on the footbridge. As a result of this accident, 11 people were killed due to respiratory distress syndrome caused by compression to the whole body (crushing to death), etc. and 183 people were injured.
(2) Accused A, as a community safety officer of the Akashi Police Station of Hyogo Prefecture, took charge of planning and designing the crowd control plan for the summer festival, and also as an officer in command of the on-site security headquarters for the summer festival, he engaged in the duty to secure the safety of people gathering at the site of the event by directing his subordinate police officers including the officer in command of the crowd control team on site. On the day of the incident, more than 150 police officers in total, including 72 regional riot police officers, were deployed in Okura Kaigan Park and the surrounding areas. Accused A was in the position where, in addition to directing the crowd control team, he could have had a riot police team mobilized at his own discretion by making a request for mobilization via the Chief of the Akashi Police Station, etc. or directly.
Accused B is the Osaka Branch Manager of Company C, a stock company which provides security services. Under the contract between Company C and Akashi City, the substantial organizer of the summer festival, Accused B served as a supervisor responsible for security guards engaging in security services for the site of the summer festival as entrusted for the voluntary security operations for the summer festival implemented by Akashi City, and in this capacity, he arranged security measures for securing the safety of people gathering at the site jointly with the Akashi City officials in charge, and also engaged in the duty to implement security operations based on such measures. On the day of the incident, Accused B supervised more than 130 security guards in total.
(3) With regard to the summer festival, there had been the following circumstances, etc., before the day of the incident, which might have caused an accident involving a crowd of people.
(A) Okura Kaigan Park, the site of the summer festival, is located south of Asagiri Station and linked with the station via the footbridge in question. It was anticipated that a large number of spectators, not only those getting off the train at Asagiri Station, would use the footbridge and gather in Okura Kaigan Park.
(B) The footbridge in question is about 103.65 meters in total length and about 6 meters in working width for pedestrians' use. On its south side, it has a space used as both a terrace and an elevator hall (about 69.9 square meters in total) that provides a fine view. At its south end, the footbridge has a 48-step staircase (with two half landings) of about 3.2 meters in width and about 18 meters in length, which turns to the west at an angle of about 80 degrees, and via this staircase, the footbridge is linked with the south footpath of a city road, Okuracho Route No. 48, which runs from east to west through Okura Kaigan Park that is located about 7.2 meters below the footbridge. Because of the footbridge's structure thus described and the availability of its south end and south staircase as the best places for viewing fireworks that were to be launched from the dyke on the east side of Okura Coast, it was easily anticipated that the area around the south end of the footbridge and its south staircase would be extremely crowded with people who would come and stay there.
(C) As more than 180 night stalls were to stand on the occasion of the summer festival on the south and north footpaths of the city road, Okuracho Route No. 48, at the bottom of the south staircase of the footbridge, it was anticipated that a crowd of people would gather around these night stalls and the flow of people would back up. Furthermore, since the lawn space in the southwest of the south staircase of the footbridge (Kaikyo Square) is the best place for viewing fireworks, it was also anticipated that people would gather there and hold their own spots for viewing, which would disrupt the outflow of people from the south staircase of the footbridge. These factors also suggested the occurrence of congestion of people in the area around the south end of the footbridge and on its south staircase.
(D) The fireworks display in the summer festival was scheduled to start at 7:45 p.m. on July 21, 2001, and end at 8:30 p.m. According to this schedule, it was anticipated that: a number of people would come from the direction of Asagiri Station, pass through the footbridge and gather in Okura Kaigan Park to be in time for the start of the fireworks display; around the time of the end of the fireworks display, people desiring to go home as soon as possible would rush to the footbridge in order to make their way toward Asagiri Station, and this would cause a collision of flows of people heading in opposite directions on the footbridge, making the congestion of people more intense.
(E) In Okura Kaigan Park, a fireworks display organized for the countdown to the New Year (generally called "countdown fireworks display") was held from December 31, 2000, to January 1, 2001, with about 55,000 spectators. On this occasion, people heading for Okura Kaigan Park were concentrated on the footbridge in question, causing a considerable state of congestion. Immediately after the fireworks ended (at 0:10 a.m.), the footbridge was overcrowded with people heading for Okura Kaigan Park from Asagiri Station and those heading for Asagiri Station from the park, pushing one another around the south end of the footbridge or on its south staircase, to the extent that there were many calls to the police. Under such situation, after the end of the fireworks display, security guards controlled the incoming of people to the footbridge around its north gateway. At the bottom of the south staircase of the footbridge, about 10 security guards and several police officers also controlled the incoming of people by standing in a line to form a wall, and made a thorough announcement to guide people from the south staircase of the footbridge to the west pathway so as to have them make a detour around the footbridge. Further at the bottom of the south staircase of the footbridge, said security guards and police officers had those people intending to go up the staircase lined up in order, thereby first completely eliminating the congestion of people on the footbridge and its south staircase, and then letting people who were waiting to leave the site at the bottom of the staircase ascend the staircase on its north side. Thus, the occurrence of an accident involving a crowd of people was narrowly prevented by taking these measures.
(F) The summer festival in question was the first one held in Okura Kaigan Park after the site was moved from the conventional site. There was no former example of crowd control for a summer festival at the new site. Although the aforementioned countdown fireworks display could have been a model case, there was an estimate that far more people than those who had come to the countdown fireworks display, over 100,000 people, would come to the summer festival, and in light of the nature of this event, it was anticipated that those people would include many young people (including small children) and elderly people.
(G) For the upcoming summer festival, Akashi City, Company C, and the Akashi Police Station held repeated discussions toward laying down a crowd control plan. However, the three parties did not take any effective measures to prevent the congestion of people stuck on the footbridge. Nor did these parties lay down any specific plan on various issues in detail, including how the state of congestion on the footbridge should be monitored, what control measures should be taken when the footbridge starts to be crowded, in what situation police control should be requested, and how the organizer of the event and the Akashi Police Station should cooperate in such situation.
(4) On the day of the incident, as previously anticipated, a number of people started to come to the footbridge from the direction of Asagiri Station from around 6:00 p.m. Around 7:00 p.m., congestion of people started to occur on the footbridge and it gradually became difficult to pass through the footbridge, and moreover, as the starting time of the fireworks display (7:45 p.m.) was approaching, far more people came to the footbridge and were stuck there, and the footbridge was becoming more and more crowded.
(5) Accused A, before the start of the fireworks display, recognized the facts mentioned in (3)(A) to (D), (F) and (G) as well as at least objective facts among the facts mentioned in (4), and he also had knowledge of the fact that there had been congestion of people on the occasion of the countdown fireworks display mentioned in (3)(E). Furthermore, by around 8:00 p.m. on the day of the incident, Accused A had received a suggestion from Accused B to control the incoming of people to the footbridge by reason of the congestion on the footbridge, and he also received a report from his subordinate police officer who served as the officer in command of the crowd control team to request him to consider assigning the regional riot police team, deployed around the site of the event, to control the incoming of people to the footbridge, by reason of the existing extraordinary state of congestion on the footbridge and the fear of a further increase of the degree of congestion. Thus, no later than said point in time, Accused A became aware that the footbridge had become overcrowded to the extent that measures such as controlling the incoming of people must be taken. However, at around 8:00 p.m., Accused A did not immediately direct his subordinate police officers to control the incoming of people or make other arrangements, nor did he make a request for the mobilization of the riot police team via the Chief of the Akashi Police Station, etc. or directly on his own.
(6) Accused B, before the start of the fireworks display, recognized the facts mentioned in (3)(A) to (D), (F) and (G) as well as at least objective facts among the facts mentioned in (4). On the occasion of the countdown fireworks display mentioned in (3)(E), Accused B engaged in security services as a controller responsible for the Okura Security Headquarters set up on Okura Coast where the event was held, and he acquired knowledge about the state of congestion on the footbridge and what measures were actually taken to prevent the occurrence of an accident involving people falling down or the like. Furthermore, by around 8:00 p.m. on the day of the incident, Accused B had been asked by the security guards of the mobile unit under the direct control of the headquarters to request police control of the incoming of people to the footbridge at the north side of the footbridge by reason of the extraordinary state of congestion on the footbridge. Thus, no later than at said point in time, Accused B became aware of the fact that the footbridge had become overcrowded to the extent that measures such as controlling of the incoming of people by the police were needed. However, although Accused B, once at around 8:00 p.m., gave a suggestion to Accused A about police control of the incoming of people to the footbridge by saying, "The footbridge is clogged with people and there is no way to clear it. Should we stop the incoming of people?" or the like, he soon withdrew the suggestion, seeing the negative reaction of Accused A. In the end, Accused B did not advise the Akashi City officials in charge to request the mobilization of police officers, nor did he directly request the mobilization of police officers on behalf of the parties in charge of voluntary security operations.
(7) In the area around the footbridge in question, a considerable number of riot police officers were deployed at the north side of Asagiri Station and at the Okura Kaigan Middle Intersection, which is to the west of the site of the summer festival. If these riot police officers had been given a mobilization order by around 8:10 p.m. at the latest, they could have arrived at the footbridge prior to the scheduled time of the end of the fireworks display (8:30 p.m.), and could have blocked the flow of people coming to the footbridge up from the bottom of its staircase, made an announcement to prohibit people around the south end of the footbridge from moving northward, guided those on the staircase to descend the staircase, while controlling the incoming of people from the north side of the footbridge and guiding them back northward. By taking these measures, the riot police officers could have successfully prevented the existing congestion from becoming intensified, thereby avoiding the accident which killed or injured a number of people in an avalanche of people.

2. Based on the facts described above, we make determination as to the criminal liabilities of Accused A and Accused B.
As mentioned above, Accused A, as an officer in command of the on-site security headquarters for the summer festival, was in the position to direct crowd control by on-site police officers, and Accused B, as a supervisor responsible for security guards under the contract with Akashi City, was in the position to supervise crowd control by on-site security guards. On the day of the incident, both Accused A and Accused B, based on their respective positions, engaged in the duty to prevent the occurrence of an accident involving a crowd of people on the footbridge in question and to secure the safety of people gathering there. However, as pointed out in the judgment in prior instance, by around 8:00 p.m. at the latest, the state of congestion of people on the footbridge had reached the level where it could not be handled only by the voluntary security operations implemented by the Akashi City officials in charge and by security guards, and even taking account of the circumstances mentioned above, both Accused A and Accused B could have easily predicted, by around that point in time, that unless the mobilization of the riot police team was requested immediately and the incoming of people to the footbridge was controlled, there would be a collision of flows of people heading in opposite directions on the footbridge around the scheduled time of the end of the fireworks display (8:30 p.m.) and this would cause an accident involving a crowd of people. Assuming so, Accused A, at around 8:00 p.m., had an official duty of care to prevent the occurrence of an accident involving a crowd of people by immediately directing his subordinate police officers and making a request for the mobilization of the riot police team via the Chief of the Akashi Police Station, etc. or directly on his own, so as to implement control of the incoming of people to the footbridge or other measures. Accused B, at around 8:00 p.m., had an official duty of care to prevent the occurrence of an accident involving a crowd of people by immediately advising the Akashi City officials in charge to request the mobilization of police officers or directly requesting the mobilization of police officers on behalf of the parties in charge of voluntary security operations, so as to implement control of the incoming of people to the footbridge or other measures. And as mentioned above, in light of the conditions of deployment of riot police officers in the area around the footbridge, if the riot police officers had been given a mobilization order by around 8:10 p.m., the accident involving a crowd of people could have been avoided. Accused A, as explained above, could have had the riot police team mobilized at his own discretion by making a request for mobilization via the Chief of the Akashi Police Station, etc. or directly on his own. Accused B, as pointed out in the judgment in prior instance and the judgment in first instance, could have advised the Akashi City officials in charge to request the mobilization of police officers or directly requested the mobilization of police officers on behalf of the parties in charge of voluntary security operations. If the parties in charge of voluntary security operations, that is, the Akashi City officials in charge or Accused B, did not only give a suggestion to the police but made a request for the mobilization of police officers by stating the reason that the situation had gone beyond the level controllable by the voluntary security operations, it cannot be imagined that the police would have refused such request. Consequently, we can say that if both Accused A and Accused B, at around 8:00 p.m., had fulfilled their duties of care, they could have successfully avoided the occurrence of the accident by implementing control of the incoming of people to the footbridge with the help of the riot police team or other measures.
Assuming so, both Accused A and Accused B are found guilty of the crime of causing death and injury through negligence in the pursuit of social activities, for having credulously believed that there would be no accident involving a crowd of people, neglected their duties of care as described above and carelessly left the situation as it was without taking any measures to avoid the possible consequence, thereby causing the accident which resulted in killing and injuring a number of people. The determination of the court of prior instance that goes along with this reasoning is appropriate.

Therefore, according to Article 414 and Article 386, paragraph (1), item (iii) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the decision has been rendered in the form of the main text by the unanimous consent of the Justices.
Justice YOKOTA Tomoyuki
Justice MIYAKAWA Koji
Justice SAKURAI Ryuko
Justice KANETSUKI Seishi
Justice SHIRAKI Yu
(This translation is provisional and subject to revision.)