Kyoto Animation building, a day after it was engulfed in fire after a suspected arson attack last July 18, 2019. (Photo by Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Japanese Police has identified on Friday the suspect in the arson attack of Kyoto Animation studio in Kyoto, Western Japan.

Police say Shinji Aoba, a 41-year-old living in Saitama City, located near Tokyo, is the alleged perpetrator that left 33 people dead and over 35 others injured on Thursday.

The suspect has not been formally arrested because he was still being treated for severe burns at a nearby hospital, but according to the police, he admitted to committing the crime.

The authorities, according to public broadcaster NHK, acknowledged that they do not reveal the name of the suspect before the arrest, but due to the significance of the incident, they decided to reveal the identity.


NHK also reports that, according to investigative sources, the arson suspect used to live in Ibaraki Prefecture, where he was indicted for a convenience store robbery in 2012, and was sentenced for three years and six months in prison.

After his prison term, he briefly lived in a shelter for former convicts before moving to an apartment that is registered as his current address.

The man was also reported to the police in the past year over dispute with his neighbors due to noise complaints.

Sources also telling the public broadcaster that the suspect is living on public assistance and was being treated for mental health.


Kyoto Animation’s first studio, which is located in Uji in Kyoto Prefecture, was engulfed in flames on Thursday at about 10:30am local time (09:30am PHT) after a man poured gasoline inside the building and set it on fire.

The fire, which took the lives for 33 people and seriously injuring about 35 more, took nearly five hours before it was extinguished by the local fire department. Many of the victims had succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning.

During the time of fire, there was about 74 people inside the building, according to authorities.


According to witnesses, the arson suspect was heard shouting “Die!” (死ね) before setting the building on fire. He was also heard saying that the animation studio was “stealing his work” and wants to talk to the head of the company.

NHK also reported that the police believed the items found near the Kyoto Animation building, including kitchen knives, a hammer and two gasoline cans, are owned by the arson suspect.

The police also found boxes of two gasoline containers nearby a train station, alongside an ignition agent and a multipurpose lighter.

A junior high school student also saw the suspect at a park near the animation studio the day before the attack, and a gasoline station worker he suspect was also spotted at a gasoline station filling up the containers half-an-hour before the fire started.


Kyoto Animation was founded in 1981 by Yoko Hatta and her husband Hideaki Hatta. The animation studio is known for producing several popular anime titles in recent years like The Melancholy of Haruhi SuzumiyaK-On!, and  Free! Iwatobi Swim Club among others.

Their latest work was the drama anime Violet Evergarden, which was released on streaming service Netflix on a simulcast basis in 2018.

The anime studio was also responsible for the critically-acclaimed anime film adaptation of A Silent Voice, which was screened in Philippine cinemas in May 2017.


UPDATE (12:00am PHT): Japanese public broadcaster NHK has reported at 11:05pm local time (10:05pm PHT) that a man had succumb to his injuries in the hospital, increasing the death toll on the Kyoto Animation fire to 34 people.