National, Prefectural Police in Disagreement Over Releasing Names of Remaining 25 KyoAni Fire Victims
posted on by Kim Morrissy
Kyoto Prefectural Police are in disagreement with Japan's National Police Agency (NPA) over whether to publicly release the names of 25 of the 35 victims in the deadly July 18 arson at Kyoto Animation's Studio 1. According to insiders in the investigation, the Kyoto Prefectural Police holds the position that pre-existing protocols regarding the disclosure of crime victim names should be followed, and that the names should be made public regardless of whether all the relatives have consented. On the other hand, the NPA maintains that the names should only be released after consent has been obtained.
Under Japan's Basic Plan for Crime Victims enforced in 2005, police are "at their own discretion to release relevant information on a case by case basis, while taking into account the privacy of the victims and the interests of the public." (Translation not official.) In most previous cases, the Prefectural Police, acting independently from the NPA, has released the names of homicide victims soon after their identities are confirmed.
There have been cases, such as the Sagamihara stabbings in 2016, when the names of victims were kept anonymous out of respect for privacy. However, one leader on the investigation team argued that because the victims of the Kyoto Animation fire were production staff who have been publicly credited in a number of films and television shows, there is no reason to hide their names.
An investigation insider told Kyoto Shimbun: "The NPA is the one micromanaging the Kyoto Prefectural Police's every move. Even though it should be up to the Prefectural Police to make a decision, the NPA has completely seized the reins."
On Thursday, an anonymous poster on Twitter claiming to be a member of one of the victim's families wrote that although they cannot speak for the other families, they oppose making the names of the deceased public. They explained that there are some families that feel upset when stories about the deceased are turned into articles, even when those articles are intended to be flattering. They also ask that people not give personal information about the victims to the press.
Earlier this month, 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 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.
12 news agencies in Kyoto collectively sent a request on Tuesday to the Kyoto Prefectural Police director Hiroto Ueda to reveal the names, noting that the current situation was "irregular" compared to similar past incidents.
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."
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.
Source: Kyoto Shimbun