Japanese man sentenced to die for killing 36 in animé studio arson

TOKYO — A Japanese man was convicted and sentenced to death on Thursday for the arson and killing of 36 people at famed animé studio Kyoto Animation in 2019, public broadcaster NHK said.

The deadly attack on the Kyoto-based studio, better known as KyoAni, had sent shockwaves not only through Japan where violent crime is rare, but also overseas given the studio’s far-reaching fan base and the audacity of the crime.

Shinji Aoba, now 45, had set the studio ablaze by dousing the entrance area of the building with petrol, also injuring 32. Mr. Aoba himself suffered heavy burns and underwent intensive treatment for nearly a year.

Media have reported that Mr. Aoba held a grudge against the studio, known for the series Violet Evergarden and other popular works, believing that it had plagiarized his novel, an allegation that KyoAni has denied.

A pillar of Japanese pop culture, animé has become a major cultural export, winning fans around the world.

The incident prompted condolences from world leaders and business executives such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook.

Japan and the United States are the only Group of Seven (G7) nations that carry out capital punishment. — Reuters