Earlier this week, what is being hailed as Japan’s “trial of the century” by many (in our office) has come to an abrupt end. The Osaka District Court handed down some rough justice in the case of a company president who sued the building he was renting office space from to the tune of 840,000 yen (US$6,800).

The president’s claim that the building’s urinals had caused excessive splash-back of pee were dismissed due to several reasons including the president’s own “pee experiments” being deemed inadmissible by the courts.

Was the president a quack who didn’t know how to urinate correctly? Or was he a victim of greedy cost cutting landlords and toilet moguls? This is their story based on court documents.

A once-young president of a burgeoning company had just moved into his new offices on the 22nd floor of a building in Osaka Prefecture. The name of the president and the nature of his business were undisclosed in reports, so let’s just call him “Mr. President” or “Mr. P” for short.

Everyone settled in fine and when nature called Mr. P would simply scoot over to the men’s room and relieve himself free of incident. It was a urinal produced by one of Japan’s leading toilet companies and served its purpose well day in and day out.

It was business as usual for the next nine years.

▼ A urinal similar to the one said to have been used during the “good times.”

After nearly a decade, the company which owned the building was carrying out some renovations on the 22nd floor. Since there was already a lot of noise and movement, they thought it’d be a good chance to update the toilets and urinals as well.

This time they went for a more sleek design which was narrower than the previous urinals.

▼ Not actual urinals, this model of urinal is just an approximation based on the description.

After the dust had cleared from the remodeling. Mr. P, having sipped one too many cups of coffee, headed to the restroom for a little break. As usual, he unzipped his pants and hummed a tune for a few seconds. However, as he hiked up his trousers to do up his zipper, he felt a strange moist sensation on his legs.

It was his own pee, sprinkled in droplets along his pant-leg like faint beads of dew on an autumn morning. It was unfortunate but accidents happen from time to time, so he shrugged it off. However, little did Mr. P know that this was far from over.

Mr. P was working at his computer when he began to feel a tingle in his bladder. A darkness cast over him as he hung his head and mentally prepared to go once again to the men’s room. He stopped counting somewhere in August, but this would easily be over the 100th time Mr. P would have to suffer the spray of his own urine all over his pants.

He stood up to reveal slacks which may have been slightly glossed by faint pee stains like a car that had been parked outside during a light rain shower. In the hallway the restroom door swung shut and passersby could faintly hear a defeated man cry “Gyah, son of a -!” from behind it yet again.

Mr. P sat back down at his desk in mildly damp pants again and stared into oblivion for a moment. He then looked up the number for the maker of those cursed urinals and reached for his phone.

A few weeks after Mr. P had placed the call, a representative from one of Japan’s leading toilet companies arrived to meet with him. Mr. P was well-prepared and not only issued his complaints but dragged the toilet rep into the men’s room for a demonstration.

Mr. P squirted some water out of a plastic bottle into the urine receptacle to show the toilet rep how it splashed back. After his display Mr. P told the toilet rep “See? The only way to fix this problem is to replace these urinals with ones that don’t splash back.”

After the toilet rep consulted with his head office, he, Mr. P, and a representative of the company which owned the building held a meeting. The toilet rep opened the discussion.

“You see, we can’t actually make a urinal that guarantees no splash-back,” he explained. “Um, that has more to do with the angle and power of the stream. You know, how you handle it and stuff. What we can do is affix a target to the inside of the urinal so you can know the optimal place to hit it.”

Mr. P was unimpressed and slightly offended by the toilet rep’s suggestion and again demanded that the urinals be replaced with something better. Eventually, the toilet rep and building management gave in and had the units replaced.

The toilet company chose a deeper model in the hopes of reducing impact with the stream. Again, this is merely an approximation.

The representative who oversaw the toilet exchange was sitting at his desk looking over some documents when his phone began to vibrate. Seeing the number on the display, the rep grimaced and picked it up. “The splash-back has improved,” the voice began, “but I’m still getting sprayed a little.”

On the other end of the line, Mr. P looked down at his trousers which at this point might have been looking more and more like a honey-dipped doughnut. “I’m afraid I’ll have to insist that you put back the urinals that were there before the renovations,” he said.

And so a call was placed to the toilet manufacturer again. They explained that because the old urinals were made by a different company, there was no way they could replace it. “We don’t think there is anything more we can do about it,” they said in defeat and hung up.

Mr. P, whose pants we assume had taken on an acid-wash jeans look, answered his phone to an excited voice on the other end. It was the toilet rep again with good news.

“We think we may have come up with a solution,” he said. “All we need to do is rig the urinal to run its self-cleaning function while you, ahem, relieve yourself and it should prevent any splashback!”

The upgrade was carried out immediately and Mr. P went to try it out. However, upon stepping out of the restroom with bespeckled pants he sullenly reported that while the self-cleaning function’s running water stopped the splash-back completely, it finished too soon and the sprinkles of urine immediately started to fly again.

Another meeting was held with Mr. P and reps from both the toilet maker and building management. The toilet rep said flat-out that “there is nothing more we can do.”

This enraged Mr. P who got out of his chair and stormed out of the room.

Mr. P contacted the building management again demanding that the urinals be replaced. However, he also demanded that his 1.1 million yen ($8,900) per month maintenance fee since last May be partially refunded due to the poor quality of urinals. Until his demands were met he would no longer be paying his building maintenance fees.

Mr. P received a message from the building management.

It said “No.”

With negotiations completely broken down, Mr. P felt he had no other choice but to sue the building owners for a percentage of his maintenance fees since May of the previous year on the grounds that they did not provide a clean and sanitary restroom for him.

The building company, however, claimed that they had performed due diligence in replacing the toilet at Mr. P’s request. They also pointed out that no other person in the building had complained of pee bouncing off the urinal aside from the plaintiff. The toilet manufacturer was more than happy to testify on their behalf as well.

It looked grim for Mr. P, but he had an ace in the hole. Prior to the trial he had conducted experiments on the various types of urinals on other floors of the building compared to the ones he used. By squirting water into them he gauged that his urinals had an increase of 44 to 99 times the splash-back of other fixtures in the building. How he managed to quantify that, we have no clue.

Unfortunately, Mr. P failed to apply proper scientific rigor to his experiment and couldn’t verify to the court that the water was squirted from equal heights and with equal strength into each urinal. As a result that evidence was ruled inadmissible and the court threw out his claims altogether.

As you might guess, Mr. P has still not relented despite this defeat. He is currently appealing to the Osaka District High Court which means the case of the splashing pee is far from closed. We can also assume that Mr. P is hard at work on other experiments to validate his claims. So those who dare get in his way, look out: urine trouble.

Source: Sankei News West (Japanese)
Top Image: RocketNews24
Inset Images: Wikipedia – Naniwa Tanji, Ocdp, Naniwa Tanji