Man arrested over deadly arson attack at Kyoto Animation last year

Suspect Shinji Aoba being taken to a police station in Kyoto yesterday, following his formal arrest over a fire that killed 36 people in the Japanese city last year. He could not be questioned earlier because he had suffered serious burns in the blaz
Suspect Shinji Aoba being taken to a police station in Kyoto yesterday, following his formal arrest over a fire that killed 36 people in the Japanese city last year. He could not be questioned earlier because he had suffered serious burns in the blaze at Kyoto Animation. PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO • A man suspected of killing 36 people and injuring dozens in an arson attack at an animation studio in Japan last July was arrested yesterday after spending 10 months in hospital for treatment.

Japanese police had issued an arrest warrant for Shinji Aoba at the time of the fire but had been unable to question him after he suffered serious burns in the blaze at Kyoto Animation.

Mr Aoba, 42, was arrested at a Kyoto hospital and transferred to police headquarters for further questioning, police said in a statement. His injuries had left him unable to walk on his own, a police official said.

The fire - one of Japan's deadliest in decades - killed the studio's artists, most of them young, shocking animation fans globally and prompting tributes to the dead from leaders such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Apple's chief executive Tim Cook.

Police said in a statement that Mr Aoba allegedly went to the studio, poured petrol inside the building and set it ablaze, killing 22 women and 14 men on the premises. He was also suspected of the attempted murder of another 34 people.

Media reports at the time said Mr Aoba told police he had taken the action because the studio had plagiarised his novel.

In a statement, Kyoto Animation said it expected the suspect to be prosecuted "to the maximum extent" under the law.

"We have no further words for the suspect... Our fallen colleagues will never return, and our wounds will never heal," it said.

Kyoto Animation is well known in Japan and abroad for its series and movies, including Violet Evergarden, which has been screened on Netflix.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2020, with the headline 'Man arrested over deadly arson attack at Kyoto Animation last year'. Print Edition | Subscribe