Suspect may be saved by his own age.

The idea of train photography seems like an idyllic pastime spent on romantic rural landscapes watching majestic machines glide into their appointed stops. But time and time again, the reality appears to be quite the opposite, with reports of rude behavior as competing photographers shove and curse at each other on packed platforms.

And on 25 April, tensions among the photographing sect of train otaku known as “toritestu” went too far and left one young man with a serious head injury and another in custody for the assault.

The incident took place on the platform of JR Nishi-Kawaguchi Station in Kawaguchi City, Saitama Prefecture. About 10 train enthusiasts were trying to take pictures of an approaching rapid-transit train on a very limited run to the Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi Prefecture for its annual Wisteria Festival.

▼ No one could have expected a wisteria festival to trigger violence, but here we are

However, the 19-year-old suspect took issue with the place a junior high school student was standing to take his own pictures and told him to move. When the boy refused, the suspect began to shove and threaten him.

It was probably not the best place to engage in such violent and potential criminal behavior though, as there was no shortage of cameras within a two-meter radius. Another junior high student who was there to capture the train on film instead turned his camera on the altercation.

After about 40 seconds, the suspect noticed the camera and struck the boy who was filming, causing him to fall to the ground and fracture his skull. This caused the suspect and his companions to flee the scene.

That same day, news of the assault was widely reported and the video that the victim took began to circulate on social media. Then, on 27 April, the suspect was spotted by an employee of Nishi-Kawaguchi Station and turned over to police.

▼ News report about the arrest

The suspect said he was on his way to turn himself in at the time because he saw all the coverage and knew he couldn’t hide. However, he denied the charges against him, telling police: “I didn’t intend to knock him down.”

While the lack of intent may help his case, netizens were more concerned that his age would ultimately let him off the hook. Although the age of adulthood will be lowered from 20 to 18 in 2022, the 19-year-old company employee is still technically a minor, which will affect his processing and criminal record in the future.

“The fact that he’s 19 is the most depressing part.”
“If his birthday is soon, can they hold off until then?”
“He basically said that he would have kept hiding if he weren’t on the news, isn’t that intent to obstruct a police investigation?”
“The guy is an adult by every standard except a number, and yet he is given all the benefits of a child.”
“At least he’ll be fired.”
“Wha? 19 is still a minor?!”
“It’s time to just outlaw photographing trains. Nothing good comes of it.”

This incident certainly hasn’t done anything to endear the general public to toritetsu. In fact, not a single comment expressed surprise that such an assault happened among members of this community.

It’s a shame, because the hobby in and of itself is quite charming and can lead to some really magical moments. Sadly, it may take restrictions either from the government or train companies to help bring it back to that state before things get even worse.

Source: Nippon TV, FNN, Tokyo Shimbun, Hachima Kiko, Itai News
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