Shinji Aoba, the perpetrator of 2019 Kyoto Animation studio arson attack, which resulted in the deaths of 36 people and injuries to several others, was sentenced to death by the Kyoto District Court. Aoba, who was 45 years old at the time of the sentencing, admitted to setting the fire at the animation firm’s premises in Kyoto on July 18, 2019. This attack is considered one of Japan’s worst mass murders.
The trial, which began in September after pre-trial proceedings starting in May 2023, included 32 total hearings. Aoba’s defense team argued for an acquittal or a lesser sentence, citing his mental state and suffering from delusions. However, the court found Aoba criminally liable, ruling that he was neither insane nor suffering from diminished mental capacity at the time of the crime.
Aoba believed that Kyoto Animation had plagiarized a novel he submitted to a contest run by the firm. Despite his belief and the defense’s arguments, the court concluded that there was no reason to avoid the death penalty, emphasizing the gravity of his actions in taking 36 lives.
The case had a significant impact, with the Kyoto Animation studio known globally for producing hit anime works like “K-On!” and “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.” The company’s president remarked that the court’s decision was appropriate but noted that their sorrow remains unchanged.
This sentencing marks a notable event in Japan, where the death penalty is relatively rare but still exists for severe crimes like multiple murders. Aoba’s case was particularly high-profile, drawing significant public interest and attention to the trial.