Bus Company Head Found Guilty over 2016 Fatal Bus Crash

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The tour bus that crashed through a guardrail and fell down a cliff (photo taken January 15, 2016).

Nagano, June 8 (Jiji Press)—Nagano District Court on Thursday sentenced Misaku Takahashi, the 61-year-old president of a Tokyo-based bus company, to three years in prison over the 2016 deadly ski tour bus crash in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, central Japan.

Tsuyoshi Arai, 54, a former employee of the bus company, ESP, was given a prison term of four years. Arai was in charge of managing bus services.

The two were found guilty of professional negligence resulting in death and injury. The prosecution had sought five years for each of them.

In the early hours of Jan. 15, 2016, the large tour bus, which was on its way from Tokyo to ski resorts in Nagano, fell down the mountainside on the Usui Bypass of National Route 18. The accident killed 15 people—13 university students and two bus drivers—and injured 26 others.

In January 2021, the Nagano District Public Prosecutors Office indicted Takahashi and Arai. Their trial began in October 2021, and was concluded in December 2022.