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Kyoto Animation Fire Suspect Arrested After 10 Months

posted on by Jennifer Sherman
Anime studio has "nothing to say" to 42-year-old man detained in Osaka

Police arrested the suspect in Kyoto Animation's Studio 1 building fire incident under suspicion of arson and murder at a hospital in Kyoto just after 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday. Authorities then transferred him to Fushimi Police Station for questioning after 8:00 a.m. The 42-year-old unemployed man from Minuma, Saitama reportedly admitted to the charges and said, "I thought I'd be able to kill many people if I used gasoline."

Kyoto Animation issued a statement on the arrest on Wednesday morning. The studio had "nothing to say" to the man and added that "actions and their results are everything." The studio explained, "No matter what excuse the suspect could give for his actions, no matter what kind of words of remorse for the results he could state, there is no bringing back our colleagues whose lives were snatched away, and no healing for our injured colleagues." The statement continued by saying that the families and friends of the victims "must face an irreversible reality, and we are doing the same." Kyoto Animation believes that the police will pursue the criminal liability of the suspect to the maximum extent in accordance with the law.

After consulting with several doctors, police had decided to wait until the man had sufficiently recovered from his injuries to be able to participate in an investigation before arresting him. Police also considered the lifting of Japan's nationwide state of emergency this week in relation to the arrest.

A court approved detention of the suspect in the afternoon on Wednesday, and authorities transferred him to Osaka Detention Center, which has doctors permanently on staff. Police plan to consider the suspect's physical condition as they continue their investigation with him housed at the detention center.

According to previous police reports, the suspect had alleged that Kyoto Animation "stole his novel." The studio's CEO Hideaki Hatta stated last July that he had never heard the suspect's name before, and no one by the suspect's name had submitted a novel to the company. Kyoto Animation solicits drafts of novels as part of its Kyoto Animation Awards program.

On July 18 last year, a devastating fire broke out at Kyoto Animation's Studio 1 building. A total of 70 people were inside the building at the time. The fire killed 36 people and injured 33 others. In addition to those victims, a man in his 40s on his way to work in the area suffered minor injuries from smoke inhalation.

Kyoto Prefectural Police apprehended the then 41-year-old suspect who allegedly used gasoline to start the fire, and they are investigating the case as arson. The man allegedly bought 40 liters of gasoline in two canisters and used a cart to transport the gasoline to Kyoto Animation's Studio 1 building.

Demolition work on Kyoto Animation's Studio 1 building concluded on April 28.

The Kyoto Prefectural Government was still in the process of determining the distribution of 3,314,438,000 yen (about US$30 million) in donations for the injured and the families of the victims of the attack as of April. The Mainichi Shimbun newspaper reported in January that the Kyoto Labor Bureau had begun paying workers' compensation to the families of the victims and those who were injured from the arson attack on Kyoto Animation.

Kyoto Animation put its work on hiatus on April 13 due to the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The studio originally planned for the hiatus to last one month but extended it through the end of May. During the hiatus, the company is only updating its website, responding to inquiries made through its website form, and shipping orders from its store.

Sources: NHK World, NHK (link 2, link 3)

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