12 Kyoto News Agencies Request Police to Reveal Names of Remaining 25 KyoAni Fire Victims
posted on by Rafael Antonio Pineda
12 news agencies in Kyoto collectively sent a request on Tuesday to the Kyoto Prefectural Police to reveal the names of 25 of the 35 victims in the deadly July 18 arson at Kyoto Animation's Studio 1. The letter was addressed personally to Kyoto Prefectural Police director Hiroto Ueda, and it noted that the current situation was "irregular" compared to similar past incidents.
Kyoto Police released the names of 10 of the victims in the fire, leaving 25 victims unnamed. Normally, authorities reveal the identities of the deceased once they have been identified, but the the Kyoto Police's unit in charge of the investigation of the incident said that it has not revealed the names in consideration of the bereaved families and other related parties.
Kyoto Animation and Daisuke Okeda, the lawyer Kyoto Animation has hired to provide communications to the public about the fire, has asked that the media respect the privacy of the victims and the bereaved. Okeda previously clarified earlier this month that the company is "not asking the police to hold back [the information regarding the names] forever."
Meanwhile, voice actress Megumi Ogata (Evangelion's Shinji Ikari, Sailor Moon's Sailor Uranus) reacted to the request by the Kyoto news agencies on Tuesday, saying that "Among those who know the identities of those whose names haven't been revealed, [the names] are already common knowledge. Even so, it is certainly enough for [us] to sympathize with the bitterness and grief." She added that, "why don't the journalists who write the articles start by writing all their articles with bylines with their names on them?"
In addition, director Junichi Sato (Sailor Moon, Princess Tutu, Aria) commented that, "I think the news agencies also have a responsibility to prevent secondary damage that may arise from their reporting. So shouldn't they show how they're going to prevent that from happening first?"
Japanese police not revealing the names of the deceased in certain incidents is not unprecedented. Authorities similarly held back in revealing the names of the seven victims of a hotel fire in Fukushima city in May 2012, as well as the names of 19 people killed in a mass murder in a care facility in Sagamihara city in July 2016.
On July 18 at around 10:30 a.m. JST, a devastating arson was committed at Kyoto Animation's 1st Studio building, killing 35 people and injuring 33 others. 30 fire engines responded to the fire, and firefighters were able to extinguish most of the fire within five hours after it started, but the fire was not fully put out until 6:20 a.m. on July 19. Kyoto Prefectural Police have already apprehended a 41-year-old man who allegedly used gasoline to start the fire, and are investigating the case as arson.
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