Japanese public broadcaster NHK is reporting on Monday that the Japanese government is considering measures to extend support to Kyoto Animation, as stated by Chief Cabinet Minister Yoshihide Suga.
Suga’s remarks come after a group of non-partisan Japanese lawmakers who support animation production call for the government to urgently take possible measures to help the well-known animation studio and its staff, who was targeted in an arson attack last July 18.
The report also states that the group wants the government to support the training of animators and production staff, as well as providing mental health counseling for the survivors of the attack. They are also calling for tax breaks for all donations given to the studio, both domestically and from abroad.
Suga told reporters in a press conference that they would like to assess the situation first with respective government ministries before discussing a compensation plan for the victims, as well as how can the government help rebuild the studio.
Kyoto Animation’s first studio building, located in Uji City in Kyoto Prefecture, was engulfed in flames on Thursday, July 18, at 10:30am local time (09:30am PHT) which took the lives of 35 people and severely injured 33 more, and took about five hours before the fire has been extinguished.
Local police said that there are about 74 people inside the building when the fire started. They also said that out of the 35 people that died on the attack, 21 were women and 14 were men. The company previously said that one of the 33 people injured has their legs amputated.
A 41-year-old man has been apprehended by the police and identified by witnesses as the suspect, who threw gasoline inside the building and shouted “Die!” before setting the building on fire.
The authorities say that the suspect claims his work is being “plagarized” by the animation studio, but they did not find a connection between the supect and the company.
Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported that, according to investigative sources, the suspect was previously arrested in 2012 for armed robbery at a convenience store and he was sentenced to three years and six months in jail.
The suspect was not formally arrested as of press time because he was being treated in a hospital for serious burn injuries, but the authorities are saying that he had admitted to the crime.
This incident is now considered as one of the deadliest massacres in Japan’s history since the end of World War II, and one of the deadliest building fire in the country after Myojo 56 building fire in 2001, which is also suspected as arson.
When news of the Kyoto Animation fire broke, messages of support from fans, world leaders and businesses made its way to social media, including from technology giant Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Embassy of the Philippines (Tokyo).
North American anime distributor Sentai Filmworks has set-up a crowdfunding campaign to help the anime studio and the victims of the attack, which has now collected over USD2 million. Software giant Adobe Inc. also donated USD50,000 to the campaign.
Several organizations, including Crunchyroll streaming service and Animate retail shop, had also set-up their own fundraising campaigns.
The anime studio has also opened a bank account on Thursday to accept donations, which they plan to give to help the families of the victims of the attack, as well as for the studio’s rebuilding.
The company also announced in a media interview that they are considering demolishing the first studio building, which would be replaced by a public park and a tribute to the victims of the attack.
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 Suzumiya, K-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.