The Kyoto District Court decided not to show any leniency on Shinji Aoba, the man who confessed to the 2019 Kyoto Animation arson that killed 36 people and wounded nearly as many. He has been given the death penalty.
Aoba’s defense did not try to argue that he was innocent. Instead, they tried to get him leniency because they asserted he was delusional. It also appears that Aoba was abused in the past by his father. Aoba was convinced that Kyoto Animation took an idea he had in a novel, and the defense used this as part of their argument that Aoba wasn’t mentally fit, because the scene in question was so generic it couldn’t be theft. The defense further alleged that Aoba believed he was “being followed by security police who are under the direction of a ‘dark figure.’”
However, Presiding Judge Keisuke Masuda declared that Aoba was “neither insane nor of unsound mind” for the arson. It could be shown that Aoba premeditated the attack. The court said that Aoba bought the gasoline in advance, studied how other crimes were committed, and that he hesitated for many minutes prior to starting the fire, as if questioning what he was about to do. However, the court was convinced that Aoba was delusional when he believed Kyoto Animation stole from him.
“The crime of pouring gasoline on victims and setting them on fire is as atrocious as it is cruel,” Judge Masuda declared. “The horror felt by the victims is immeasurable.”
The court also commented, “(The murder plan) was due to his aggressive personality, his way of thinking, and his knowledge, and it was not influenced by his delusions.”
At the start of the session, Judge Masuda asked Aoba, who’d been brought in via a wheelchair, if he had anything to say.
A few moments passed before Aoba answered, “No, I don’t.”
Aoba was described as expressionless when the ruling was passed down. He bowed his head. Victims’ family members wept. The Kyoto Animation arson was the worst mass murder in Japan since World War II.
Source/Image: The Asahi Shimbun
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.