Japanese Man Sentenced to Death for Deadly Anime Studio Arson Accepts Verdict and Appeals Conviction

TOKYO, Japan – The Japanese man who was convicted of setting fire to an anime studio, resulting in the deaths of 36 people, has accepted the court’s verdict, according to local media. Shinji Aoba, 45, was found guilty for the deadly arson attack on the studios of Kyoto Animation in 2019, the deadliest crime in Japan in decades.

Aoba’s defense team had initially entered a plea of not guilty, claiming he suffered from a mental disorder. However, on January 25, he was convicted of the crime and sentenced to death. Despite the guilty verdict, Aoba’s defense team has appealed the ruling, citing his mental state as a mitigating factor.

In a rare interview with the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, Aoba stated, “I seriously accept the verdict,” adding, “because I would not be able to speak out if I did not continue (with the court case).” He expressed a desire to leave behind lessons for others and to make his voice heard during the court proceedings.

The attack at the Kyoto Animation studio resulted in the deaths of mostly young individuals, leaving a profound impact on the community. Aoba had broken into the building, spreading gasoline and igniting it while shouting “drop dead,” as survivors recounted. The presiding judge described the victims’ deaths as “anguishing” and condemned the act as “truly cruel and inhumane.”

Aoba sustained severe burns on 90% of his body and was in a comatose state for weeks after the fire. Prosecutors revealed that Aoba believed the studio had stolen his ideas, an accusation vehemently denied by the company. The case has reignited discussions about Japan’s capital punishment system and the high level of public support for it in the country.

As the legal process continues, the tragedy at Kyoto Animation serves as a stark reminder of the devastating impact of such crimes, prompting broader conversations about mental health support and the protection of creative intellectual property.