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Person with same name as arson suspect submitted novel to Kyoto Animation

Posters of Kyoto Animation works are seen on display at the Museum of Kyoto, in Kyoto's Nakagyo Ward on July 30, 2019. (Mainichi/Mai Suganuma)

KYOTO -- A man with an identical name and address to those of the suspect in the deadly arson attack on a Kyoto Animation Co. studio had submitted at least one novel to the company, a lawyer representing the firm revealed on July 30.

Shinji Aoba, the 41-year-old suspect in the attack, told Kyoto Prefectural Police shortly after the July 18 attack that he set fire to the firm's No. 1 studio in Kyoto's Fushimi Ward because the company "stole my novel."

However, the lawyer said, "There are no similarities between the content of the submission and Kyoto Animation works."

The world-renowned animation studio launched the Kyoto Animation prize 10 years ago, soliciting novels and other works from both professional and amateur writers. The prize-winning works have been made into paperbacks and adapted into animation.

Because the work submitted by the applicant did not pass the initial screening as it failed to meet formatting requirements, information about the submission had not been shared among company staff, according to the lawyer.

The firm found the work by the applicant after the suspect's name and address were reported by media organizations following the incident, the lawyer said.

Kyoto Prefectural Police have received the work in question and are scrambling to determine whether it really was submitted by Aoba. Once identified, police will analyze the content of the novel to unravel the motives behind the arson. Police have already obtained an arrest warrant for Aoba on suspicion of murder and other charges.

"The content of the submission cannot be disclosed in light of the right to make the work public under the Copyright Act," the attorney said. The company also withheld information on when and how many times the individual submitted his works.

In connection with the case, prefectural police confiscated manuscripts from Aoba's apartment in Saitama's Minuma Ward, north of Tokyo, during a search on July 26, according to sources close to the investigation.

(Japanese original by Yoko Kunimoto, Mai Suganuma and Kanae Soejima, Kyoto Bureau)

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