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The ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Monday held its first meeting to discuss possible measures to prevent similar incidents to last week’s massacre of eight schoolchildren by a man with a history of psychiatric illness.

During the meeting, former Justice Minister Okiharu Yasuoka said Japan should improve the level of medical treatment for mentally ill patients.

He said doctors’ fees for mentally ill patients, currently lower than those of other fields, should be raised in an effort to attract more highly skilled psychiatrists.

He added that the number of doctors and nurses in the field should be increased, saying that, on a per patient basis, there is only half the number in psychiatry compared to other fields.

Meanwhile, Naokazu Takemoto, a Lower House member elected from Osaka Prefecture where the massacre took place, said the party should consider establishing a law that would enable authorized bodies to detain mentally ill people.

Although it is unlikely that such a law will be created, Takemoto’s remarks are believed to reflect the shock the incident caused the public as well as lawmakers.

Another LDP member proposed the possibility of placing security guards at all public schools nationwide.

The gathering followed Friday’s massacre, in which Mamoru Takuma, 37, allegedly stabbed eight children to death and injured 15 others in a stabbing spree at an elementary school in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture.

Safety checks ordered

The education ministry has instructed education boards across the country to conduct safety checks at elementary, junior high and high schools following Friday’s massacre at an Osaka elementary school, ministry officials said Monday.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry requested that the education boards report by Thursday about whether the schools in their area have conducted checks based on safety guidelines the ministry issued in January 2000, the officials said.

The ministry also asked for opinions on possible revisions to the guidelines, the officials said.

On Friday, Mamoru Takuma, 37, was arrested on the spot after reportedly stabbing eight children to death and injuring 15 others, including two teachers, at the state-run Ikeda Elementary School in Osaka Prefecture.

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