This is one of those interesting court cases where the onus cannot entirely be put on one party for ensuring that the safety standards of toys are met. On the one hand Namco Bandai was found culpable for the suffering endured by a 2 year old toddler when he swallowed one of their Gashapon capsules which resulted in permenant brain damage due to lack of oxygen flow, and was ordered to pay the guardians of the child 26 million yen. Yet on the other hand the capsule size had met the 4 meter self imposed regulations by the industry for choking hazards. Likewise one could argue that the parents were at fault for not carefully monitoring their child’s activities, as careful attention would have not allowed the Gashapon capsule to get into the toddlers hands and eventually mouth in the first place.
This is one of those cases that I could see hitting the Supreme Court as I think it’s something that needs to be decided. Should Namco Bandai be asked to increase the diameter of all of their capsules and filling them with air holes (which would come at a considerable cost to the company most likely in that they’d have to upgrade all of their manufacturing plants to do so) as the courts have suggested or should the courts be lecturing parents on negligence which would cause such a tragedy to happen as well? The way I see it, nothing really came of this court case other then a transfer of money and nothing is really going to be done to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again. Namco Bandai was not forced to comply with any requests to change their safety standards and likely will not, and the judge apparently had no advice to offer to the parents.
In some ways this decision disappoints me (as have a lot of Japanese court cases I’ve read) and I actually hope that Namco Bandai appeals the case so that it can gain more widespread attention and hopefully one of the higher courts will have a better written opinion than the Kagoshima District Court. Feel free to offer your thoughts on this matter readers.