Bottom line: Government ministers in Japan are calling for an investigation into an incident that saw a high-speed bullet train traveling to Tokyo hit and kill a man who had entered the tracks. The apparent suicide wasn’t discovered until authorities found human body parts inside a crack in the train’s nose, some 20 miles from where the collision took place.
Japan’s Transport and Tourism Minister, Keiichi Ishii, has ordered the West Japan Railway Company to look into why the driver never reported hearing an unusual sound on June 14. The train operator said he did hear a strange noise when the train was in the tunnel but assumed it had hit an animal. Believing there was no threat to passengers, he decided a safety inspection wasn't necessary and failed to follow procedure by not sending a report to the ops center, reports the Japan Times.
After another driver noticed a huge crack in the nose of the train and reported it to operations, the center ordered the 700-series to make an emergency stop.
Police investigated the damage at the Shin-Shimonoseki Station in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture. They discovered body parts inside the crack, and later found more in an area near a tunnel in the city of Kitakyushu. An empty minivan was parked at a nearby road. Police later confirmed it belonged to a 52-year-old caregiver from Nogata, Fukuoka Prefecture. Police matched his fingerprints from the body parts found in the nose of the train.
“The driver decided on his own that the case didn’t apply to things that must be reported,” a Fukuoka branch official told The Asahi Shimbun. “That’s the point we should examine.”