Junior high school student invents lifesaving lattice after Kyoto Animation tragedy

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Ryuki Inagaki demonstrates how to remove his lattice fence invention from the inside.

Taking a lesson from the Kyoto Animation arson attack in July 2019, in which 36 people were killed, a junior high school boy in Gifu Prefecture has invented a window lattice that can be removed from the inside. The invention won a silver medal in an international contest.

Ryuki Inagaki, a third-year student at Sakamoto Junior High School in Nakatsugawa, Gifu Prefecture, embarked on his creation after learning the security lattice on the windows at KyoAni had hindered evacuation and rescue efforts on that tragic day. He hopes that his invention will be put to practical use and save the lives of as many people as possible in case of fire or disaster.

Inagaki has a certain talent for innovation. When he was in the second grade of elementary school, he made a shogi board nine times larger than usual out of cardboard for his grandfather, who had poor eyesight. Later, he made a mailbox that made a sound when the slot was opened to prevent theft, and a table that could be adjusted in size.

In the summer of his second year of junior high school, he saw a news report about the arson attack and learned that three women tried to escape from the window of the first floor bathroom of Studio 1, which was in flames. It took them a long time to evacuate because they were blocked by a security lattice.

He wondered why the lattice, which was installed to prevent crime, was designed in such a way that it ended up costing people’s lives and whether it was possible to make a lattice that could be removed from the inside.

Normally, security lattices are affixed to the window frame on the outside. Inagaki designed his lattice using pipes attached to the four corners that pass through holes in the wall and are secured with clamps on the inside. When the inside clamps are removed, the lattice can be pushed out.

With the help of his father, Yuki, who is a plumber, it took him a month to create the new design.

“In a time of crisis or panic, even the elderly or women with limited strength can quickly remove the lattice from the window,” Inagaki said.

Inagaki’s work won the silver prize at the 2020 International Exhibition for Young Inventors, which attracted 158 entries from nine countries and regions.

Inagaki, who aspires to become a programmer, said with a twinkle in his eye, “I want to come up with an invention that can help people in need by combining handmade with digital.”

Kyoto Animation arson attack

On the morning of July 18, 2019, an arson fire broke out at the KyoAni No. 1 studio in Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, killing 36 people and seriously injuring 32 others. Many of the victims are believed to have lost consciousness due to smoke inhalation. In December 2020, the Kyoto District Public Prosecutors Office indicted Shinji Aoba, an unemployed man, on five charges including murder and arson of a building.