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Memorial Concert Held over Deadly Arson Attack in Osaka 2 Years On

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A building that was set on fire in Kita Ward, Osaka, is seen on Dec. 17.

Osaka (Jiji Press)—With Sunday marking two years of an arson attack in Osaka that killed over 20 people, a memorial piano concert for the victims was held in the western Japan city in early December.

The 46-year-old younger sister of Kotaro Nishizawa, one of the victims, who ran a clinic specializing in psychosomatic medicine and psychiatry, organized the concert, hoping that similar events will be held in the future as well to bring together bereaved relatives.

In the attack, which occurred on the morning of Dec. 17, 2021, a man set fire at the clinic, located on the fourth floor of a multitenant building in Kita Ward of Osaka. A total of 26 people, including the clinic head, then 49, and patients of the clinic, lost their lives in the incident. The attacker, who was a former patient of the clinic, also died.

The sudden death of Kotaro has not seemed real to his sister, Nobuko.

“I wish such a thing had not happened. I want to see you,” she said at the memorial concert, as if she was talking to her deceased brother.

“I will live my own life here,” she added. The event was held Dec. 3 and attended by about 40 people, including former patients of the clinic run by Kotaro.

This was the first time since the incident that the sister was able to say she wants to see her brother.

After the December 2021 incident, Nobuko continued to interact with former patients.

She also started to run a cafe with a certified public psychologist from Hyogo Prefecture, western Japan, who had mentored Kotaro.

At the cafe, Nobuko listens to people who come for consultations or advice. Some visitors say they feel relieved as she listened to them.

Next year, Nobuko plans to take a course to foster personnel to support crime victims. Also hoping to support offenders, she is communicating with officials related to a project to offer jobs to people released from prison.

She now sees changes in her feelings. “I felt painful this year, unlike last year, when I see videos at the time of the incident,” she said. But she added, “I think it is good for me to feel it.”

She also said that interacting with former patients and friends is healing her wound gradually.

Meanwhile, Nobuko has always been concerned about bereaved relatives with whom she still has been unable to get in contact.

In mid-September this year, she attended a court hearing of the trial for the July 2019 arson attack on a Kyoto Animation Co. studio, which left more than people dead.

Seeing in the courtroom a number of family members who lost their loved ones, she was reminded that there are many bereaved relatives also in the incident in Osaka and that she must not forget this fact.

She hoped that the Dec. 3 memorial concert, organized jointly with a friend who is a pianist, would be a venue to help bereaved relatives become positive, not a place for grieving.

Among those who participated in the concert, a former patient of the Osaka clinic in his 40s from Hyogo said that he was able to remember other patients whom he was close to.

Nobuko plans to hold a similar concert every year so that bereaved relatives can come to attend whenever they want, believing, based on her own experience, that new encounters created through the incident will give them psychological support.