Japan: Psychological care for quake-hit orphans

It will be the first time that the central government provides such care in the wake of a major disaster.

Tokyo: Japan will start providing
grief counselling to children early next year in the three
northeastern prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, where
over 1500 children are estimated to have lost their parents to
quake and tsunami, sources said.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry here will undertake
a project in cooperation with the prefectural governments,
experts and trained volunteer staff. One-on-One meet with
affected children is aimed to alleviate grief through personal
contact, the sources said.

The project will represent an enhancement of
psychological and medical care for people with post-traumatic
stress disorder and other symptoms in the region.

The ministry believes it is also necessary to provide
grief counseling to children who are not showing any specific
symptoms at the moment, the sources said, because it is feared
such children could later suffer from sudden depression.

It will be the first time that the central government
provides such care in the wake of a major disaster.

The number of children aged below 18 who have lost either
or both parents is estimated at 569 in Iwate, 838 in Miyagi
and 160 in Fukushima.

The ministry project will also target children who have
lost other relatives or friends, according to the sources.

Children who wish to receive counseling will be recruited
through schools or community organizations. Meetings with
volunteer workers will be set up once a month or every other
month at public assembly halls or other venues.

In Miyagi Prefecture, a civic group called the Sendai
Grief Care Association and other groups have already been
providing such care. The ministry is planning to work with the
groups and start its project initially in the cities of Sendai
and Ishinomaki in the prefecture, the sources said.

Satomi Takahashi of the grief counseling association said
they plan to train around 200 people who will get in touch
with affected children and extend their activity to other


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