Sustained support necessary for victims of the Kyoto Animation attack

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe mental and physical burden on the surviving victims and the families of those killed in the attack is sure to mount with each passing day. The provision of long-term support is indispensable.

One month has passed since the fatal arson attack at a Kyoto Animation Co. studio building. Suspect Shinji Aoba is receiving treatment in the hospital and has not been questioned. His motive for the crime has not yet been elucidated.

During a search of Aoba’s home, items associated with Kyoto Animation works were discovered. A person with the same surname and forename as the suspect had submitted novels to Kyoto Animation that had been rejected. The company has denied the possibility of plagiarism, saying, “There is no similarity between our works and the novels.”

Those killed or injured in the incident total close to 70. Whatever the suspect’s motive, for the victims and their families this was an outrageously heinous incident to experience. Deprived of peace in their daily lives, their anxiety must be great.

The Kyoto prefectural police have established a team of 100 personnel exclusively assigned to support victims. Given the seriousness of the suffering, the police are said to have formed a support framework of an unprecedented scale.

The team will arrange for specially trained personnel to accompany victims during DNA tests and police questioning. Personnel will also accompany them when they travel to and from facilities, as well as provide information on accommodations. Meticulous care should be taken to support bereaved families and others.

The task of providing medium- and long-term support will be undertaken by private-sector organizations. There are differences in the suffering of individual victims and their families. It is expected that counseling will be required over time. Attention also must be paid to the need for financial compensation.

Staff and volunteer numbers are limited. It is important to seamlessly respond to the diverse needs of the victims and their families, by seeking cooperation from neighboring support groups.

Naming of victims vital

Fifteen days after the incident, the prefectural police revealed the names of some of the victims who had died: 10 victims whose families had approved the move and whose funerals had been conducted. It is understandable that some families, struggling to accept the deaths of their loved ones, were reluctant to have victims’ names made public.

Nevertheless, there is great significance in publishing the names of victims.

How did the victims live their lives and what kinds of hopes have been destroyed? How much sadness, suffering and anger have the bereaved families had to endure? The significance of the facts involved can be more greatly conveyed when the names of victims are reported, making it possible for society to collectively embrace the issue.

Using the names of victims helps to convey accurate information to family members and those concerned about the conditions of acquaintances. As long as the victims remain anonymous, there is no halting the spread of harmful rumors on the internet.

It is the duty of news organizations to ensure that articles are accurate by checking the facts in police announcements through news-gathering activities, based on the names provided by the authorities.

Needless to say, the actions of journalists must not descend into a media scrum, thus undermining the public’s trust in them. Careful consideration must be paid to the methods used in news-gathering activities.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 18, 2019)Speech


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