January 23, 1995 in Nation/World

Stress, Frustration Mount After Quake Japan’s Death Toll Nears 5,000; Aftershocks Still Rattling Kobe

Associated Press

Signs of psychological stress, frustration and a breakdown in the social order for which Japanese society is renowned emerged Sunday among the thousands of survivors of Japan’s deadliest quake in more than seven decades. The death toll neared 5,000.

At the Kansai Rosai Hospital in nearby Amagasaki, doctors said many patients were having difficulty breathing at night - a symptom doctors said is common among those suffering delayed stress syndrome.

“The people think we’ll have another big quake,” taxi driver Yoshikazu Morimoto said. “Most are very afraid another big one will come. Many people are leaving, and many of them have lost their jobs” because businesses were destroyed.

For the first time, merchants are complaining about thefts, and on Sunday, many of them organized a neighborhood watch system to guard against nighttime pilfering from their shops.

As of this morning, six days after the 7.2-magnitude quake, Japanese national police said the death toll had risen to 4,984 with 166 still missing.

A strong aftershock shook Kobe overnight, and another hit just before dawn. But there were no reports of additional damage or injuries. Both aftershocks measured 4 on the Japanese 7-point intensity scale.

Frustration over the government’s relief operation boiled over into open hostility Sunday during a live, nationally televised hookup between government officials and survivors.

“You should have told us or showed us what we could do in such a bad situation,” barked one man, abandoning the honorific style of speech that Japanese ordinarily use in addressing leaders.

© Copyright 1995 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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