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Hokkaido: Taxi driver dies after assault by passenger

HOKKAIDO (TR) – A 59-year-old deliveryman for the Hokkaido Shimbun newspaper was arrested after he punched a male taxi driver, who later died, in Tomakomai City on Wednesday, police have revealed , reports the very same newspaper (May 24).

At around 11:10 p.m., Masatsugu Watanabe, who works part-time at a sales office, fled from the cab of Susumu Sato, 69, without paying the fare of around 1,000 yen.

Sato chased Watanabe over a distance of up to 30 meters from the vehicle. The suspect then punched the driver in the face. After the assault, the driver alerted police.

At around 11:30 p.m., an officer from the Tomakomai Police Station arrived at the scene and found Sato unconscious. He was confirmed dead at a hospital about two hours later. The results of an autopsy revealed that he died due to congestive heart failure, police said on Thursday.

A 59-year-old man assaulted a taxi driver in Tomakomai City on Wednesday (Twitter)

Watanabe, who has been accused of robbery, admits to the allegations. “I didn’t want to pay because he didn’t drop me off at my home,” the suspect was quoted by police.

Prior to the incident, Watanabe, who joined the Hokkaido Shimbun in 2012, had been out drinking. He used the taxi to return home.

“We would like to express our deepest sympathies to the victim and his bereaved family,” a representative of the paper was quoted. “As well, we are asking the sales office to cooperate with the investigation. We will also renew efforts to provide proper instruction to employees.”

Police are investigating whether to change the charges against Watanabe to robbery resulting in death.