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Truck driver complained of illness before fatal bus crash in Hokkaido

A truck driver who died in a recent collision with a bus that killed four others in Hokkaido had complained of ill health to his company at some time before the accident, a police official said Wednesday.

In the accident that occurred around noon on June 18, police suspect that the truck strayed into oncoming traffic, hitting the bus head-on at a slight bend on a two-way road in the town of Yakumo, southern Hokkaido. The driver of the bus and three passengers died.

A day after the collision, Nippon Clean Farm Ltd, a pig farming company that owns the truck, told reporters that records about the 65-year-old truck driver Makoto Kajiya over the last three months showed he was not overworked.

The company also said Kajiya had shown no "abnormalities" in his health.

It is not immediately clear what the nature of the truck driver's health complaint was, nor when he told his employer of the illness.

Authorities are investigating the details of Kajiya's working conditions to determine whether the farming company failed in its management of him.

Kajiya was an experienced delivery driver who had continued to work for the company past its retirement age of 60, according to Nippon Clean Farm.

The bus, operated by Hokuto Kotsu Inc, was heading from the prefectural capital Sapporo to Hakodate and was carrying 15 passengers. All 12 passengers who survived the accident sustained injuries.