On November 30 Hitomi Yoshizawa was sentenced to two years imprisonment, suspended for five years.
In sentencing Judge Takao Sato said "You bear a serious responsibility, but a settlement has been reached with the victims and I am reflecting that".
Details of the Hearing
(1137 members of the public queued to attend the hearing - 20 were admitted)
Hitomi Yoshizawa (33), former member of the idol group Morning Musume, was charged with violating the Road Trip Law and violating the Car Driver Punishment Act (negligence injury). On November 29, at the Tokyo District Court (Judge Takao Sato presiding), the former idol admitted the content of the indictment. The prosecution charged that the defendant's negligence was severe and asked for two years in prison. The defense side questioned the proposed sentence and suggested a suspended sentence.
The defendant stood in a gray suit while stiffening her expression. Her hair, which was brown at the bail hearing, was dyed black and her makeup was softened. When asked by the judge "Is it the same address, occupation as written in the indictment?" she answered "It is different only in the occupation", and when asked "Is it unemployed?" answered "Yes".
The prosecution said in the opening statement that the defendant had drunk 2 cups of shochu and 2 litres of shochu carbonate at home from around 8:15pm the day before the accident until around midnight, and went to bed at about 1am . She woke up around 6am, started driving after around 51 minutes, with the accident occurring around 57 minutes later.
The defense side clarified that a settlement with the two victims had been made, and submitted a petition by the former affiliated office (Up-Front) president and the manager seeking consideration of the circumstances. When the president's words of "I would like to reach out as a friend, as a senior in life, even after retirement" were read out, the defendant sobbed.
Mrs. Yoshizawa, who was asked about current drinking by the defense counsellor afterwards, answered "It is suddenly decreasing". Her husband also confirmed this.
It was reiterated that a settlement has been reached with the victims. The woman stated "I suffered an injury that left scars on my face and I received mental damage, I wanted compensation." Although it was expected that negotiations would be difficult, she said that an agreement on compensation had been reached.
Through tearful eyes Mrs. Yoshizawa addressed the victims "I apologize because I feel really sorry for what happened - I will not live to forget what happened at this time".
According to the indictment, Mrs. Yoshizawa was driving a car after having drunk alcohol in Nakano Ward, Tokyo on the morning of September 6. At 86 kilometers per hour, ignoring the red light, she entered the intersection and caused an accident inflicting minor injuries to a man and woman who were traversing. It is said that she drove away from the scene without taking measures to aid the victims.
Questions from the Defense Counsel:
- Why whiskey alcohol?
"I think that I should have refrained, I am deeply sorry about what I've drunk."
- After hitting the victim, the witness at the next intersection taps on the passenger window glass of the defendant's car
"Since I was in a panic situation ... I did not know what I was doing. After a while I found a place to stop the car after I calmed down and I told my husband about dialling 110 (Japanese emergency service number)"
- What was the time after the incident before reporting it?
"The sense of time has been upset, so I do not remember"
- Are you driving after the accident?
- Why did you retire from the entertainment industry?
"I'm really sorry for the victims"
Questions by the Prosecution Counsel:
- Although you were in a contact accident in 2017, has your driving continued unchanged?
"I did not specifically forget it"
- Traffic violation 3 times and accident 2 times in 4 years after obtaining your license. Is your knowledge of traffic regulations insufficient?
"I think that it was not enough"
- Why did this happen if you are in a position to draw public attention from the public?
"I think that I am too easy on myself (not self-disciplined)"
- Do you intend to reacquire your license
"I do not intend to do so"
- Accident vehicles are kept by the police. What will you do if it is returned?
"I will dispose of it"
- Are you no longer planning to ride in a car?
Question by the Judge:
- What specific part of you is easy on yourself?
"I think it is that as a drinker and as a society person, I am relaxed."
(Approximate Translation from Chunichi Sports, Sponichi and other accounts of the proceedings)