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Editorial: Finding the truth behind Kyoto Anime attack a must to help dispel heartache

Shinji Aoba, 42, has been arrested on suspicion of a fatal arson attack on a Kyoto Animation Co. studio in July 2019. He had been in a hospital after suffering burns across his entire body, but he was deemed to have recovered enough to undergo questioning by police.

A full-scale investigation into the attack that claimed the lives of 36 people and injured 33 others has just been launched more than 10 months after the incident took place.

Many of the victims were those in their 20s and 30s. They fell victim to the attack at their workplace where they had poured their hearts and souls into, and suddenly their bright future was taken away from them.

It's only natural that some bereaved families don't want to be reminded of the incident out of the sorrow they feel from losing their loved ones. At the same time, there are others who must be unable to find closure without the suspect speaking of the reason why he committed such a devastating crime.

Kyoto Anime fans have also voiced their wish to find out the truth behind the attack. The animation studio has garnered a wide range of fans by illustrating the reality of the everyday lives of youths in works like "K-On!" that depicts high school girls in a parlor music club. The studio's ability to carefully collect information when creating an anime and its animators' high-quality drawing skills have been highly valued at home and abroad.

Following the attack, Apple CEO Tim Cook paid his condolences on Twitter, saying, "Kyoto Animation is home to some of the world's most talented animators and dreamers," and lamented the gravity of the loss that it was "a tragedy felt far beyond Japan."

The arson attack sent shockwaves throughout the globe, and the amount of relief donations that will go to the victims and bereaved families has topped 3.3 billion yen.

Aoba has reportedly admitted to the allegations, telling investigators that he thought he would be able to kill many people if he used gasoline. He has said during voluntary questioning by police so far that he set fire to the studio because the firm stole his original novel. Kyoto Anime has denied this, and the focus of the investigation will be on his motives.

There is also a need to take notice of the background of the attack. Aoba had his dispatch work contract terminated in 2008 after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the ensuing financial crisis. He had also reportedly become self-destructive right before he committed the attack, picking arguments with his neighbors.

We don't know if these circumstances affected his actions, but by getting the whole picture including the background of the attack might provide us a lesson. We also believe that it could help bring closure for the victims and bereaved families.

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