KyoAni Arson Suspect Describes Omiya Mass Stabbing Plan; Aoba Says He Saw Too Few Victims to Go Through With It

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Shinji Aoba is seen being transported in Kyoto after his arrest in May 2020.

KYOTO — The suspect in the 2019 deadly arson attack on a Kyoto Animation Co. (KyoAni) studio had plotted an indiscriminate killing at JR Omiya Station in Saitama Prefecture a month before the studio attack in Kyoto, with the aim to “stop KyoAni from plagiarizing,” he said Wednesday at his trial at the Kyoto District Court.

While answering questions from the defense, Shinji Aoba, 45, who is charged with murder in the arson attack that killed 36 people in July 2019, said, “I thought KyoAni would not stop stealing [my works] if I didn’t commit a major incident.”

Aoba unsuccessfully submitted two novels to KyoAni’s competition in 2017. In the trial, the prosecution has alleged that when the novels he had put his heart into were not selected, it made him develop a delusion that his ideas expressed in the works were stolen, so that he decided to take his revenge.

On Wednesday at the court, Aoba said: “I felt betrayed even though I had worked hard on the novels. It was a mistake to have sent them to KyoAni.”

Aoba said he then felt that his ideas were stolen and “felt I had to think of the worst thing I could do.”

It was June 2019 when Aoba attempted to commit a random murder near Omiya Station in Saitama. Aoba said that he thought KyoAni would stop plagiarizing if word got around that Aoba had committed a major incident. He purchased six kitchen knives and traveled by bicycle from his then home in Saitama City to the major railway station.

He ended up abandoning the plot because “the station was not crowded, and I thought it wouldn’t become a big incident there,” Aoba said.