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Priest, 97, forfeits driver's license after elderly man caused fatal accident

FUJISAWA, Kanagawa -- A 97-year-old Buddhist priest has returned his driver's license to a local police station because he was shocked at a fatal traffic accident caused by an 87-year-old driver in Yokohama.

    Priest Taa Shin-en, the 74th chief of the Jishu sect of Buddhism since its founder Ippen Shonin (1239-1289), visited Fujisawa Police Station on Nov. 15 to return his license to Hideo Kato, chief of the station. He subsequently gave a speech there on traffic safety to police officers as well as senior citizens living in Fujisawa.

    The priest said he made the decision as there are a growing number of car accidents involving elderly drivers nationwide, including the Yokohama accident that left a first-year elementary school boy dead, and he himself feared that he could cause an accident because of his advanced age.

    "Even if you believe you're healthy, you can't tell what'll happen to you. It's necessary for drivers to be constantly aware of their health conditions," said Priest Taa Shin-en, who obtained his driver's license in 1959. "Support from local governments is also necessary," he added.

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