39-year-old Keiji Goo killed 72-year-old Sachiko Nakanishi whilst driving and playing the mobile phone game

The sentence given to a man who killed a pensioner whilst driving and playing Pokemon Go in Japan is being criticised for being too lenient.

39-year-old farmer Keiji Goo was convicted of negligence after killing 72-year-old Sachiko Nakanishi and causing extensive injuries to 60-year-old Kayoko Ikawa in Tokushima on 23 August.

“He was driving while looking at the game screen on and off and his negligence is extremely serious”, the judge, Tomoya Arai, said in his ruling at the Tokushima District Court.

Goo was given a 14-month prison term, significantly less than the 20 months originally demanded by the prosecutors. Netizens have since criticised the sentence for its leniency. One online commentator described the sentence as “obscene”, whilst another said that she is now “extra careful when I’m with my kids when walking around, just because some guys play that game.”

The conviction marks the first of its kind in Japan to be linked to Pokemon Go. The game was released earlies this year on 22 July. Two more cases are also pending after two more fatalities resulted from people playing the game behind the wheel.

On 25 August a 29-year-old Vietnamese woman died in hospital after being hit by a car in Aichi Prefecture.

On Friday, Takatoshi Noritake pleaded for Pokemon Go to be inoperable whilst driving after his 9-year-old son, Keita, died two days prior. Keita was returning from school with his 12-year-old brother when he was hit by a lorry driven by 36-year-old Nobusuke Kawai. Kawai admitted to police that he was playing Pokemon Go whilst driving.

“Keita had both hopes and dreams”, Mr Noritake said at a press conference in Ichinomiya, central Japan. “What kind of world do we live in where a child who abided by the traffic rules has to die?”

“We want measures to be taken so that the application cannot be used at all while driving, to avoid any more deaths”, he added, “Otherwise, Keita will not be able to rest in peace.”

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