The following content discusses sensitive and potentially inflammatory topics, including murder and the death penalty.
The person responsible for the Kyoto Animation arson, Shinji Aoba, has officially been sentenced to death for his actions.
NHK reported live on Aoba’s much-anticipated sentencing, revealing that 409 people had requested to attend the trial out of 23 empty seats. To break with convention, the judge first read the reasons behind the guilty verdict without revealing that Aoba had been sentenced to death. The main focus of the recent trials in this case was to determine whether Aoba was sane enough to be responsible for the arson that killed 36 people. The judge found him competent and shortly after 4pm JST, Aoba was sentenced to death. The victims’ families will not appeal, and Aoba’s defense team has not said whether they will.
Aoba’s sentencing on January 25, 2024, follows the prosecution’s successful decision last month to seek the death penalty. The doctor who treated Aoba’s burns after the arson, Takahiro Ueda, believes that Aoba personally was not surprised by the verdict. Aoba was exceptionally quiet throughout the day’s trial.
Japan takes steps to prevent future crimes like the Kyoto Animation arson attack
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshimasa Hayashi, has outlined steps to prevent similar incidents from happening again. He shared that the Fire Services Act now requires that for anyone filling and selling fuel tanks – as Aoba used in his arson – the identity of the buyer must be recorded. “We will continue our efforts to prevent similar incidents from occurring by ensuring thorough safety measures at each gas station,” he added. However, arson is just one method that Aoba, who believes that Kyoto Animation plagiarized his novel, may have used to carry out his revenge. Sailor Moon director Kunihiko Ikuhara recently overcame a case of stalking a similarly delusional aggressor, winning a harassment lawsuit against someone who frequently sent him distressing messages via social media. Ikuhara now has constant police patrols around the house.
Kyoto Animation remains one of Japan’s most beloved animation studios, hailed as the gold standard for positive working conditions for employees. Known for its stunning visuals, the studio has released works such as Violet Evergarden, Beyond the Boundary, Hyouka, K-On!, Clannad, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and many more.