OSAKA — Ikeda Elementary School, where eight pupils were stabbed to death Friday by a knife-wielding man, began an explanatory meeting for parents Saturday afternoon.
School officials pledged to make the utmost efforts to provide mental care for the children involved in the incident, in cooperation with the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and the Osaka Prefectural Government.
The school also proposed a joint funeral service for the eight pupils who died, the officials said.
Fumio Kishida, senior vice education minister and head of the emergency headquarters that the ministry set up to deal with the case, also attended the meeting. The parents of all pupils at the school were asked to attend.
The eight children pronounced dead at nearby hospitals Friday were seven second-grade girls aged 7 and 8, identified as Yuka Kiso, Kana Tsukamoto, Yuki Hongo, Ayano Moriwaki, Maki Sakai, Mayuko Isaka, Rena Yamashita, and a first-grade boy, Takahiro Totsuka, 6.
Takaharu Tsukamoto, father of Kana, said Saturday morning, “My daughter will never come back whatever I say. I feel deeply sorry, that’s all.”
Local residents visited the gate of the school, leaving bouquets of flowers and incense sticks and offering prayers for the children. A 53-year-old man said tearfully, “If I were a parent of one of the victims I would kill the criminal.”
Mamoru Takuma, 37, stormed into the classrooms of the elementary school, which is attached to state-run Osaka Kyoiku University, on Friday morning and stabbed children with a 15 cm knife, according to police.
After attacking a number of pupils, Takuma was captured by two teachers and police arrested him on suspicion of attempted murder. Police later switched the charge to murder as eight children had died.
Takuma, a former official of Itami city, Hyogo Prefecture, is presently being treated by a psychiatrist. Osaka Prefecture’s health consulting center in Ikeda opened an information desk offering consultations for children who are experiencing psychological problems in connection with the incident.
Fourteen experts, including psychiatrists, were on standby for consultations in person or over the telephone. Immediately after it opened at 9 a.m., the mother of a fifth grade female pupil at the elementary school called and said, “My child is upset by the incident, what should I do?”
Consultants advised parents to discuss the incident frankly with their children and pay attention to whether there is any change in their appetite or health. Similar consultants were dispatched to public health centers in Takarazuka, Kawanishi and Itami cities in Hyogo, where a number of pupils at the school live.
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