Crime Victims: Raise Awareness of Need for Society to Provide Support

There is no knowing when a crime will befall anyone. It is extremely difficult for victims and their families who have suddenly suffered such misfortune to rebuild their lives on their own. It is essential for society as a whole to support them.

The government has decided to raise the minimum amount of benefits to be paid to the bereaved families of crime victims from the current ¥3.2 million to over ¥10 million. An expert panel from the National Police Agency has compiled a set of draft outlines.

Under the current system, the amount of benefits is calculated based on the deceased victim’s income and whether they were supporting a family. Therefore, if the victim is a child or unemployed and has no income, the issued amount tends to be low.

Many of the victims of the arson and murder incident at a clinic in the Kitashinchi area of Osaka City in 2021 were on leave from work, prompting calls for a review of the system.

It is also not uncommon for bereaved families to be unable to work due to the emotional shock of such incidents. Benefits are indispensable in helping them rebuild their lives. It can be said that an increase in the amount of benefits is a step forward in supporting victims.

The minimum amount of benefits to be paid to victims who cannot work because they have been injured or disabled as a result of an incident is also expected to be raised. The NPA said it will aim to establish a specific calculation method for the benefit amount and introduce it as soon as possible.

The prompt payment of benefits is essential for bereaved families and victims to get through the most difficult period immediately after an incident.

However, it has so far taken an average of as long as nine months from submitting an application for benefits to a decision being reached regarding payment. This is because, in some cases, it takes time to confirm the facts as the suspect has not been arrested.

In such cases, it would be necessary to improve the operation of the system by providing temporary benefits before a formal decision is made.

In addition to increasing the amount of benefits, it is important to support victims so they are not isolated. The government intends to establish a system in which the same lawyer provides continuous support to victims of murder and sex crimes, among others, starting immediately after an incident occurred.

A victims’ group is calling for a system that can also provide relief to those who are suffering as a result of past incidents. It is hoped that a system that provides detailed responses to the needs of the victims and all those involved will be realized while listening to their voices.

Some local governments have implemented their own measures to support crime victims. The city government of Akashi, Hyogo Prefecture, has set up a system in which, if compensation is not paid by the perpetrators, the city government provides up to ¥3 million to the victims in their stead. It also subsidizes relocation and educational expenses for victims.

Such support will hopefully be further expanded. It is also an important role to be close to bereaved families and victims who are at a loss and provide compassionate guidance to them.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 15, 2024)