Two years after the arson attack at the Osaka Clinic that killed 26 people… Former patient speaks of the director’s golden words that “saved me from living in darkness. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Two years after the arson attack at the Osaka Clinic that killed 26 people… Former patient speaks of the director’s golden words that “saved me from living in darkness.

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The building where the fire took place immediately after the incident and a floral tribute; the fourth floor was charred to the ground

On December 17, two years have passed since the horrific arson attack in which 26 people were killed.

The scene was a building in Kitashinchi, near JR Osaka Station, that housed a clinic for psychosomatic medicine and other facilities. Even now, the bereaved families and former patients of the clinic lay hands on the victims and offer flowers to mourn the loss of their loved ones. A reporter for this magazine reported on the scene immediately after the incident. She heard stories of the clinic director’s devotion from former patients.

We would like to recount the article distributed by “FRIDAY Digital” on December 19, 2009, and look back on the outline of the tragic incident and the golden words of the clinic director who saved the patients who were suffering at the bottom of the pit (some contents have been modified).

There was no escape.

Two days after the incident, the building where the fire took place was still in a raw state.

The window frames on the fourth floor were burnt out, and even from the outside the blackened, sooty interior could be seen. The first floor was covered with blue sheets and about 10 police officers were on guard.

On December 17, 2009, just after 10:20 a.m., fire broke out on the fourth floor of the Dojima Kita Building (Sonezakishinchi, Kita-ku, Osaka City), located about 200 meters from JR Osaka Station. Smoke quickly spread to the entire floor, and the fire was extinguished in about 30 minutes, but many people were killed.

On the fourth floor was a clinic for psychosomatic medicine called Nishi-Umeda Kokoro to Karada no Clinic (Nishi-Umeda Clinic for Mind and Body), where a man in his 60s was admitted immediately after the clinic opened. Immediately after the clinic opened, a man in his 60s placed a paper bag in his hand on the floor near the reception desk and kicked it away. The liquid that flowed out of the bag ignited a fire in the heating equipment. The clinic is small, about 79 m2, and was quickly engulfed in black smoke and toxic gas.

The only way to escape from the fourth floor was to pass through the reception desk and use the elevator or emergency stairs. The fire started near the reception desk, and patients and staff who lost their way collapsed one after another. …… Many of the victims who were carried out by the firefighters who arrived at the scene had their bodies bent in a ‘ku’ shape. Most of the deceased had no external injuries, and the cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning,” said a reporter from the society section of a national newspaper.

Investigators entering a house believed to be the home of the Tanimoto suspect in December ’21.

The suspected arsonist is Morio Tanimoto, then 61, a resident of Nishiyodogawa Ward, Osaka City, who was a patient at the clinic. He himself was taken to the hospital with cardiopulmonary arrest and became unconscious and in critical condition (he later died). Knowing the structure of the building, it is believed that he dared to start the fire near the reception area so that patients and staff could not escape.

The clinic supported people suffering from depression and developmental disorders. Because it was located in a business district, it had many middle-aged and older patients. The clinic was open only on Tuesdays and Fridays in the morning, and was open until 10 p.m. in the afternoon for working people.

On the day of the incident, a “rework program” was scheduled to help people who had taken a leave of absence return to work. So more people than usual were visiting the clinic. The suspect Tanimoto may have been aware of these circumstances.

I thought I was pathetic. ……

The director of the clinic was Kotaro Nishizawa (49 at the time), a well-known specialist in the treatment of developmental disorders. After the incident, he could not be contacted, and it was later confirmed that he had passed away.

What kind of doctor was Mr. Nishizawa? A former patient living in Osaka City, who had been visiting the clinic until just before the incident, said, “He never gave advice from above and was humble.

He was a humble doctor who never gave advice from above and treated patients with great care. He is not the kind of person who causes trouble. I don’t know why he did arson, etc. …….

I used to work in the travel industry, and about 3 years ago (when the incident happened) I was power-harassed and developed depression. It was so severe that I was living in total darkness all the time. After listening to my story very carefully, the doctor said to me, “Please take a rest. Please rest. Please take it easy. I was feeling sorry for myself and was struggling with the fact that I had no motivation to do anything, and I can’t tell you how much those words helped me. ……

Mr. A also participated in the “rework program.

I was relieved to know that there were many people in the rework program who were suffering from the same problems as I was. I learned that I don’t have to push myself so hard. I was really saved. I am the person I am today thanks to you.

The unprecedented fire that killed a reputable doctor and a large number of innocent patients and staff members. The building where the fire took place has been declared off-limits to the public, and many flowers are still laid there.

Immediately after the incident, many flowers were offered in front of the building.
People praying at a flower offering. Photo taken in December 2009.
The first floor was covered with blue sheets and guarded by police officers. Photo taken in December 2009.
Exterior view of the building immediately after the incident. The black soot from the small window on the side of the building indicates that black smoke was coming from the building.
A member of the press takes a photo of the fourth floor, where the fire started. Photographed in December 2009.
  • Photographed by Takuma Arimura, Takamasa Yamazaki

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