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Editorial: Clarify motives behind arson attack on Kyoto anime studio

An arson attack on the No. 1 studio of Kyoto Animation in the western Japan city on July 17 has left more than 30 people dead and dozens of others injured. One cannot help but be furious about this extremely cruel crime. We mourn the deaths of the many employees and others who were killed and were denied a chance to fulfill their dreams.

The scene of the attack was Kyoto Animation's key base. A 41-year-old man allegedly poured what appeared to be gasoline on the floor while screaming, "Go die!" Multiple knives were also found at the scene.

The man suspected of carrying out the arson attack may have had a deeply rooted grudge against the company. Whatever his reasons, such a heinous crime is unjustifiable. Law enforcers should clarify the motive.

Kyoto Animation, which is a relatively new anime production company inaugurated in 1981, has produced a string of hits, including, "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya" and "A Silent Voice." While many other anime production companies are based in Tokyo, Kyoto Animation has aspired to dispatch its unique culture from the ancient capital and is believed to have put a lot of effort into developing human resources.

Kyoto Animation plays important role in the industry, as anime is drawing worldwide attention as a symbol of Japanese culture. It appears that jobs at the company have been coveted by many young people aspiring to be anime creators.

The incident is extremely regrettable, considering that a world similar to one depicted in public broadcaster NHK's ongoing serial drama "Natsuzora," which tells the story of youngsters driven by passion to create anime, was unfolding at Kyoto Anime, although the drama is set in a different era.

About 70 staff members were working in the three-story studio at the time of the arson attack. Although much of the work in anime production is computerized nowadays, many Kyoto Anime workers still used manual procedures, suggesting that numerous documents, key frame drawings and other flammable objects were at the studio.

No one can control a fire generated by igniting gasoline in such a place. It is heartbreaking to imagine that the victims suffocated from the smoke and had nowhere to flee.

In the meantime, it is incomprehensible why the entire building was instantly filled with fire and smoke. In a fire that broke out in a building in the Kabukicho entertainment district of Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward in 2001, which left 44 people dead, it subsequently turned out that fireproof doors in the building were not working properly.

Law enforcers should examine whether fireproof doors were installed and properly functioning at the Kyoto studio and whether the building had adequate firefighting equipment. The latest incident has reminded the public of the need to re-examine fire prevention measures at places where numerous people gather in preparation for an unexpected situation.

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