Osaka organization to create online community for arson victims

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Two months after the fatal Dec. 17 arson attack on a mental health clinic in Osaka, a local disability-support business is preparing to launch an online platform on March 1 to offer former patients and survivors of the clinic a safe space to share their experiences.

With its office located just a few minutes walk from the site of the arson in the Kita district of the city, Shogaisha.com offers employment counseling and other services to people with mild intellectual disabilities. Although the survivors and former patients of the attacked clinic are not necessarily disabled, some of them have received support from the company.

Former patients at the clinic “may have been traumatized” by the arson attack – which killed 25 people – said Yuichi Kawada, 49, head of Shogaisha.com.

Kawada’s wife, Naomi, 49, who also works at the company, says there are many anxious people who find it difficult to talk to others and she hopes their services can help people not feel alone.

“Talking will help people sort out their feelings,” she said.

The online platform will be open not only to survivors of the attack, but also to those who feel isolated or are not receiving psychiatric treatment.

Doctors and psychologists will also help create the online environment where people can get information about social services, discuss work-related issues, talk about alternative clinics, and share feelings of grief and loss.

The company is currently recruiting participants through the Campfire crowdfunding website to help staff and grow the service.

Ahead of the platform’s launch, an online press conference was held on Wednesday, joined by a man in his 40s who was a former patient at the clinic and has lost friends and acquaintances in the criminal fire. The man said he wanted to tell others about his difficulties finding another clinic after the attack.

“First, I want to create an environment where I can live comfortably, which hopefully will ultimately help society,” he said.

Shogaisha.com announces on its website the launch of an online platform on March 1 for people to share their concerns and experiences of the Osaka clinic arson attack last year. | SHOGAISHA.COM / VIA KYODO

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