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OSAKA — Some 300 people gathered at a symposium Sunday to discuss and raise public awareness of the plight of crime victims, criticizing police inaction, excessive media coverage and lack of access to information about their own cases.

The gathering was the second of its kind organized by a national group of crime victims established in January to establish rights for crime victims and create a system for supporting their recovery. Their first symposium was held in Tokyo.

Isao Okamura, 71, the group’s representative and a former vice president of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, said that although a package of legislation to protect the rights of crime victims was enacted earlier this year, it means very little to crime victims who are disallowed from speaking even a word during a criminal trial.

“(The legislation) was only the first step of the reform to protects the rights of crime victims. We have to make our suffering known to more people,” said Okamura.

Okamura’s wife was killed in October 1997 by a man who blamed him for his own stock investment losses. Okamura was representing the brokerage that handled the man’s account.

The new legislation grants victims the right to testify in court and get access to trial records.

Seven other members of the group reported their feelings about criminal cases involving loved ones who were killed or injuries to themselves.

Hiroyuki Onoi, 44, from Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, told the audience how his 20-year-old sister Yukako was killed by her former boyfriend, who stalked her after Yukako refused to see him because of his violence.

After months of stalking and death threats, Onoi and Yukako went to the police. However, the local police tried to dissuade them from filing a formal complaint against the stalker and instead suggested they would ask the 27-year-old man to write a statement promising he would stop annoying Yukako.

Onoi and his sister agreed to the police proposal. But the man continued to stalk Yukako, and in February 1999 killed her by ramming his car into hers. He then killed himself with a knife soon after.

Onoi is angry with police because the officers refused to let him see the statement the stalker supposedly gave the police. Although Hyogo Prefectural Police conducted an internal probe on the case’s development, police officials refuse to apologize for failing to prevent his sister’s death.

Kyoko Inoi, 50, from Saitama Prefecture, reported how she and her family members suffered from media reports after her 21-year-old daughter was killed by a stalker on a street.

She said that soon after she lost her daughter, her house was surrounded by TV crews and reporters who kept coming to ask her questions for more than two months.

Even at the funeral, the media vehicles took so many parking lots that her relatives and the daughter’s friends had to look elsewhere for parking spaces. The lack of parking prevent some them from getting to the funeral on time, she said.

The group adopted a resolution calling for a medical care system for crime victims, disclosure of information on the discharging of convicts, and protection of privacy from the media.

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