Archive for September, 2017

Supreme Court decision concerning the responsibility of family members to supervise dementia patients

Supreme Court 3rd Petty Bench decision 1 March 2016

By Tatsuya Sasaki


In Japan, as the country’s “aging society” label suggests, statistics as of 15 September 2015 show that 26.7% of the national population is elderly. Further, approximately 15% of the elderly are affected by dementia, and as the causes of Alzheimer’s disease in particular are yet unknown, this number is increasing each year. With this in mind, I would like to introduce a Supreme Court judgment delivered in March 2016 that was the first to address the issue of the responsibility of family members to supervise dementia patients, whose numbers are predicted to increase substantially in the future.

Background of the case

The case involved a man (A) who was suffering from a severe case of Alzheimer’s disease and was inclined to wander away. While his wife (Y1) was taking a brief nap, A walked away from the house and eventually opened a fence gate at the end of a train platform, went onto the railway tracks and was fatally struck by a train. In response, Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central) sued A’s surviving family members, namely Y1 and her eldest son (Y2), for compensation for the damage that arose from the incident, such as the delay to the train services.

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