OSAKA — Osaka Prefectural Police, in cooperation with a nonprofit organization, will on Thursday debut on a trial basis a program to introduce victims of rape to professional counselors.

The service, which will be launched on a full-scale basis in October based on findings from the test period, is the first in Japan in which police are directly involved in securing for rape victims systematic counseling from professionals in the private sector.

If a rape victim wants to receive counseling, an expert from the Kansai Counseling Center is dispatched. Ten counselors from the center have been commissioned to handle cases sent by police.

For the time being, counseling is free within the first two weeks of a rape and victims can receive counseling more than once without charge if it is within the two-week period. The counselors are available everyday between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., according to police Superintendent Kenji Tsujino. “Appropriate counseling at an early stage is very important in mitigating the mental damage of victims of sex crimes,” Tsujino stressed. About 150 rapes are reported to Osaka police annually.

Previously, police only gave victims pamphlets describing various counseling services. But it is considered rare for sex-crime victims to seek such services themselves due to the great trauma they suffer.

The Kansai Counseling Center, which started one-on-one counseling in 1965, has about 65 experts. The center also provides training courses.

The center’s president, Hiroshi Kokindo, stresses the importance of cooperation between the public and private sectors. “Our society is changing in a way that such cooperation is becoming more important in providing appropriate services to the public,” Kokindo said.

Osaka police and the center will also start a service Thursday to cover other victims of sexual abuse, victims of traffic accidents and the next of kin of victims of various incidents. For these, the first counseling session, available at the center, is free.

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