Japan Arsonist In Fire That Killed 36 At Animation Studio Given Death Penalty | CBC News


A Japanese court sentenced a man to death after finding him guilty of murder and other crimes Thursday for carrying out an arson attack on an anime studio in Kyoto that killed 36 people.

Kyoto court rules that Shinji Aoba, 45, is mentally competent, contrary to defence claimThe Associated Press

· Posted: Jan 25, 2024 9:21 AM EST | Last Updated: 3 hours ago

Shinji Aoba is shown being transported by stretcher to Fushimi police station in Kyoto, Japan, on May 27, 2020, about a year after the deadly attack on the animation studio. It’s not clear when Aoba might face execution. (Ryosuke Ozawa/Kyodo News/The Associated Press)A Japanese court sentenced a man to death after finding him guilty of murder and other crimes Thursday for carrying out an arson attack on an anime studio in Kyoto that killed 36 people.

The Kyoto District Court said it found the defendant, Shinji Aoba, mentally capable to face punishment for his crimes and announced the sentence of capital punishment after a recess in a two-part session on Thursday.

Aoba stormed into Kyoto Animation’s No. 1 studio on July 18, 2019, and set it on fire. Many of the victims were believed to have died of carbon monoxide poisoning. More than 30 other people were badly burned or injured.

Judge Keisuke Masuda said Aoba had wanted to be a novelist but was unsuccessful and so he sought revenge, thinking that Kyoto Animation had stolen novels he submitted as part of a company contest, according to NHK national television.

Aoba plotted the attacks after studying past criminal cases involving arson, the court said in the ruling, noting the process showed that Aoba had premeditated the crime and was mentally capable.

“The attack that instantly turned the studio into hell and took the precious lives of 36 people caused them indescribable pain,” the judge said, according to NHK.

Japan is among a minority of advanced countries that still deliver death penalty sentences, although they are relatively rare.

Executions are carried out in high secrecy in Japan, where prisoners are not informed of their fate until the morning they are hanged. Since 2007, Japan has begun disclosing the names of those executed and some details of their crimes, but disclosures are still limited.

Attacker suffered burnsDuring the trial, Aoba told the victims’ families that he was sorry, but the court’s ruling said there was little hope for rehabilitation.

Aoba, 45, was severely burned and hospitalized for 10 months before his arrest in May 2020. He appeared in court in a wheelchair.

Aoba’s trial has attracted significant attention in Japan. People are shown waiting in line for tickets to attend his trial in Kyoto on Sept. 5, 2023. (JIJI Press/AFP/Getty Images)His defence lawyers argued he was mentally unfit to be held criminally responsible.

About 70 people were working inside the studio in southern Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital, at the time of the attack.

One of the survivors said he saw a black cloud rising from downstairs, then scorching heat came and he jumped from a window of the three-story building gasping for air.

The company, founded in 1981 and better known as KyoAni, made a mega-hit anime series about high school girls, and the studio trained aspirants to the craft. 

The fire was Japan’s deadliest since 2001, when a blaze in Tokyo’s congested Kabukicho entertainment district killed 44 people.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi said the Kyoto Animation attack was “a highly tragic case” and that the government has since stepped up restrictions on gasoline sales, including mandatory identification checks of purchasers.

NHK also reported that Aoba, who was out of work and struggling financially after repeatedly changing jobs, had plotted a separate attack on a train station north of Tokyo a month before the arson attack on the animation studio.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *