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Heroes and Villains on the Trains of Osaka

Two unrelated incidents on the trains of the Osaka area that are being reported this week show the worst and the best parts of humanity.

Accused Serial Rapist Allegedly Victimizes Woman While Bystanders Do Nothing

Takamitsu Uezono being taken into custody.

The Mainichi Newspaper (J) is reporting (as is NNN (J)) that on April 21st Takamitsu Uezono, a 36-year-old demolition worker, was charged with rape and re-arrested by the Yodogawa Police in Osaka.

Uezono was already arrested once this January by the Shiga Prefectural Police for an entirely different sexual assault, for which he is currently on trial. He is accused of sexually assaulting a 27-year-old woman in a train on the JR Kosai Line, as well as a second assault on a 20-year-old college student in a bathroom at the Otsu station when he got off the train. Both of these incidents occurred on December 21st, but police are now saying that this wasn’t the first time he had preyed on unsuspecting commuters.

The second set of charges accuses Uezono of sexually assaulting a 21-year-old office worker last August on the “Thunderbird” express train on the lengthy Hokuriku Line running between Toyama and Osaka.

The attack allegedly occurred at around 9:20pm right after the train left Fukui station. According to reports, Uezono took a seat next to the woman and threatened her, saying “I’m going to kill you if you escape.” and “I will stalk you as long as you live.” After molesting her in her seat, he allegedly took her to the bathroom on the train about an hour later and raped her for 30 minutes. His victim was apparently too afraid to cry out for help, but was weeping.

If the Mainichi Newspaper’s report of the incident (J) is to be believed, Uezono wasn’t the only criminal on this train, however. According to the newspaper, there were about 40 passengers on the same car in which the attack occurred, at least some of whom noticed that something was amiss. None of them, however, did anything at all to help. Uezono is alleged to have threatened the passengers around him, but none of the silent enablers so much as alerted a conductor.

According to JR Western Japan, who runs the train, almost all of their cars have an emergency buzzer near the connection between cars that alerts the conductor, and the bathrooms also have a buzzer for ill passengers to request aid. Additionally, on routes with a long distance between stops, the conductors periodically patrol the trains.

Why none of these safety features were used to help the woman is unclear. For its part, the JR Western Japan press office said “We are going to enhance conductor’s patrols, and try to provide passengers with safety and anticrime measures. If you see an incident, we would like you to use the emergency buzzer.”

These criminally unhelpful passengers could learn a lesson from a group of six schoolboys in the same area.

Sextet of High School Heroes

The Sankei Newspaper is reporting (J) that on April 18th at Izumitottori Station on the JR Hanwa Line, six first-year students of Osaka Prefectural Izumitottori High School saved a 19-year-old man who fell off of the platform.

According to the man’s mother, he was on his way home from work when he suffered a seizure, stumbled, and fell onto the tracks. The students, who were nearby, leapt into action when they saw the man fall. One boy ran to push the emergency stop switch, three of them leapt down onto the tracks, and the remaining two stayed on the platform to pull the man up. The group called 119 (the Japanese emergency number) after pulling him up to safety. He was taken to a hospital and escaped with only minor injuries.

More impressive still, the group of quick-thinking schoolboys wasted no time making plans or splitting up responsibility, although each filled his role marvelously.

JR Western Japan is considering presenting the boys with letters of commendation for their bravery, and the Osaka Prefecture Board of Education is also going to honor them sometime soon. The man’s mother visited their school on the 19th to express her appreciation. She was quoted as saying “There are still young people like this in these savage times. I am eternally grateful.”