Man arrested over deadly arson at Japanese animation studio
TOKYO, Japan – Japanese police on Wednesday, May 27 formally arrested a man on suspicion of an arson attack on an animation studio in the city of Kyoto last year that killed 36 people, a police spokesman said.
"We arrested Shinji Aoba, 42, on suspicion of the murder of 36 people by setting fire" to an animation studio, a police spokesman told AFP.
The arrest came 10 months after the attack on the Kyoto Animation studio, which also injured dozens of people.
Aoba was detained by police shortly after the blaze. He was found with serious burns and taken to hospital. He was reportedly unconscious for weeks.
He is reported to have said "drop dead" before setting alight flammable liquid he poured around the building.
A motive for his alleged attack remains unclear, though he reportedly confessed to the arson. Some reports have said Aoba accused Kyoto Animation of plagiarizing his work.
Aoba allegedly "broke into the studio, scattered gasoline on the ground floor, set fire to it and killed 36 people" – 14 men and 22 women, the police spokesman said.
He is also accused of attempted murder over the injuries of 34 people, and possessing knives on the street without legitimate reasons, in violation of Japan's strict laws on weapons.
Police had held off formally arresting Aoba while he remained in serious condition.
He is still recovering, but police have prepared medical treatment facilities at a police station to which he will be sent, public broadcaster NHK reported.
The horrifying attack on the well-known anime studio was the deadliest violent crime in decades in famously safe Japan and shocked the country.
Many of those killed in the blaze were young, including a 21-year-old woman.
"These are people who carry the Japanese animation industry on their shoulders," Kyoto Animation's president Hideaki Hatta told reporters at the time.
"It's heartbreaking. Japanese jewels were lost."
Kyoto Animation, known by its fans as KyoAni, is well-known both domestically and internationally for its role in producing popular TV anime series including The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and K-ON!
While many animation studios are based in Tokyo, the firm reportedly felt strongly about remaining in the ancient Japanese city of Kyoto.
Its work often featured elaborate screenshots described as "KyoAni quality" by enthusiastic fans. – Rappler.com