Masao Yamazaki, Ex-JR West chief, cleared in Japan train crash

THE former president of one of Japan’s largest rail operators has been cleared of responsibility for a crash that claimed 107 lives when a speeding commuter train smashed into an apartment building.

Masao Yamazaki was found not guilty of professional negligence over the smash, which happened when the train jumped the tracks on a tight bend during the morning rush hour and ploughed into a residential tower in 2005.

The driver and 106 passengers died in the accident, which also left 550 people injured in Japan’s worst rail disaster for four decades.

Yamazaki, now 68, was in charge of safety for operator West Japan Railway in 1996, when the company rebuilt tracks to sharpen the bend at the accident site in the western city of Amagasaki, near Kobe.

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