NHK has learned that Japan has had at least 3 child casualties caused by passenger seat air bags during accidents since 2013.
In February of this year a mini-car rammed into a utility pole in Osaka City. It was going about 30 kilometers per hour. The crash caused air bags to inflate, strongly impacting a 3-year-old girl who was sitting in the passenger seat. She was killed.
Police in Fukushima Prefecture told NHK that in 2013, a car collided with a roadside fence pillar at a speed of 30 to 40 kilometers per hour. A 6-year-old boy in the passenger seat was killed when the air bag activated by the crash crushed his neck.
The mother of the boy was in the backseat of the car at the time of the accident. She said she let him sit in the passenger seat as he insisted on watching a DVD on the car navigation screen. She regretted it, saying she should have seated him in the back.
Also in 2013, a mini-car rear-ended another vehicle in Kumamoto Prefecture. An air bag struck a baby sitting in a safety seat fitted to the passenger side. The baby suffered a broken skull.
An official of Japan Automobile Federation, Yoshihisa Ono, said air bags inflate at a speed of 100 to 300 kilometers per hour and that the impact of the inflation is said to be as strong as a punch of a professional boxer.
Ono called on parents to seat their children in backseats.
Source and image: NHK