Japan Railway Chief Not Guilty in 2005 Derailment

January 12, 2012

The former president of a major Japanese railway has been found not guilty of negligence in a crash that killed 107 people in 2005 and raised concerns over pressures to sacrifice safety for punctuality.

Masao Yamazaki resigned as president of West Japan Railway Co. shortly after the speeding commuter train derailed and crashed into an apartment in Amagasaki, western Japan.

He was charged in 2009 with not properly supervising company safety measures. He was found not guilty Wednesday by the Kobe District Court.

The crash was the worst in Japan since 1963, and led to improvements in braking systems. Some experts said it reflected unreasonable expectations for drivers to keep their trains on time in a system that is among the world’s most punctual.

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