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Onlookers photographing blind man killed by Shinjuku train spur social media outrage

JR Shinjuku Station is seen in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, in June 2019. (Mainichi/Masaaki Shimano)

TOKYO -- Society's moral compass is under question on social media after onlookers gawking at an accident that killed a blind man at JR Shinjuku Station on the night of Oct. 2 reportedly tried to photograph the scenes on their phones from the next platform, despite calls to stop by railway staff.

Once the internet caught wind of the incident at the station, located in the capital's Shinjuku Ward and one of Japan's busiest transport hubs, posts asking how the country's morals could have sunk so low began appearing continuously on social media sites. It was reported that multiple people took photos by thrusting their phones under the blue sheet used to cover the scene by rescue services.

Others thought to be eyewitnesses took to Twitter to condemn their actions, with posts including, "The station staff members are making repeated announcements telling people to stop taking photos," and, "Even though they're making announcements, there are loads of rubberneckers."

When other users saw their descriptions of what was unfolding, they reacted with streams of messages decrying the morality of modern Japan. Others expressed a total inability to understand the motivations behind taking the photos, and questioned why someone would want to keep the images saved on their phones and what they might want to do with them.

Conversely, there were a pronounced number of posts in support of East Japan Railway Company (JR East) employees, with many saying they had responded completely correctly to the situation, and that more of those present should have listened to them.

The death of a blind man at JR Shinjuku Station on Oct. 2 comes after another incident involving a woman with sight impairment at Keisei Tateishi Station in Katsushika Ward the day before. The woman fell from the platform and was struck and killed by a train at the scene.

In response to persistent harrowing deaths of visually impaired people in accidents, many people online have called for stations to be improved with the installation of doors on platforms to prevent falling.

(Japanese original by Takuya Yoshida, Integrated Digital News Center)

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