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In 2006, Japan DMORT was established by physicians, nurses, forensic pathologists, social workers, and a journalist (inspired by a major train crash in the previous year) to provide mental support to disaster victims’ families who had not received care. However, disaster victims’ identification and care of the families were monopolized by police in Japan. Also, our ‘study group’ status confused people who were affected by disasters.
To describe the development and future challenges of our association.
We developed our policy to focus on mental support through various activities such as the 11 closed seminars with disaster victims’ families, 21 training courses for disaster responders, and several workshops in medical or nursing conferences. In the Christchurch Earthquake, NZ (2011), with young Japanese casualties in a collapsed building, our core member reported the needs of families’ mental support, which showed the validity of our policy.
In the Great East Japan Earthquake (2011), we distributed mental health care manuals for disaster responders. In the landslides in Izu Oshima Island (2013), 3 members supported victims’ families through the town office. In the Kumamoto Earthquake (2016), two members made grief work on families of 17 victims at the prefectural police academy. These activities convinced the police of the need for medical/mental support and ourselves of the necessity for legal status. In 2017, we reorganized our association into an incorporated society. We also became official members of crime/disaster victims support liaison councils of two prefectures among 47 in Japan. In 2018, official agreements were made with the Hyogo prefectural police. But in the Heavy Rains and Flooding of July and in the Hokkaido Eastern Iburi Earthquake of September, the local police did not agree to accept us.
Official collaboration with police is essential nationwide in Japan. Further relief activities are expected.