Kyoto Prefectural Police and National Police Agency disagree on how to handle identities of remaining 25 people who lost their lives in arson attack.

It’s now been over a month since the July 18 arson attack on Kyoto Animation’s Fushimi anime studio. 35 employees who were in the building at the time lost their lives, either at the studio or after being transported to the hospital for ultimately unsuccessful emergency medical treatment.

On August 2, just over two weeks after the attack, the names of 10 of the deceased were released by the Kyoto Prefectural Police, with many of their friends and family members offering words of remembrance. However, the remaining 25 deceased, though their remains have been identified by investigators, are yet to have their names announced.

Such a long time lapse is unusual, though not entirely without justification. A 2005 Japanese cabinet decision on treatment of victims of crimes allows for the police to “take into overall consideration both issues of protection of privacy and public interest in making appropriate decisions regarding the disclosure of information on a specific case-by-case basis.”

Initially, the decision to withhold the names of victims was made in order to give families time to make arrangement for and hold funeral ceremonies for the fallen. With more than a month passing, however, multiple Japanese media organizations are beginning to ask when the identities of the remaining 25 victims will be released.

According to Kyoto newspaper Kyoto Shimbun, the Kyoto Prefectural Police had intended to disclose the remaining 25 names in a collective statement before the start of Japan’s Obon summer holiday, which took place last week. However, Japan’s National Police Agency did not agree with such a course of action, and so no statement was issued.

“Disclosing the names would be an infringement on the privacy of the victims and their families,” a spokesperson for Kyoto Animation has said, “which could be enormously damaging to the families.” There is precedent for keeping the identities of victims of violent crimes in Japan hidden indefinitely, as has been done so far with the 19 victims of a mass-stabbing at an assisted living center for people with physical or mental disabilities in the city of Sagamihara, and some have wondered if a similar policy will be set for the 25 unnamed Kyoto Animation arson victims.

However, one Kyoto Prefectural Police investigator feels that an important difference is that unlike the Sagamihara victims, who were unknown private citizens to begin with, the Kyoto Animation victims were known by name to many, by virtue of appearing in the credits for Kyoto Animation anime TV series and movies. “There is no reason I can find for the Kyoto Animation victims to be kept anonymous [permanently],” the investigator said.

In contrast, the National Police Agency has said “In regards to disclosing the names of the victims, we believe the Kyoto Prefectural Police should take into account the family’s wishes, and act appropriately” and that it believes “the families’ consent is required for disclosure.” Meanwhile, a Kyoto Prefectural Police investigator has said “Although we have asked the bereaved for their understanding, even without their acquiescence, the names will be disclosed according to established regulations,” though no specific timetable has been set for such a development.

Source: Kyoto Shimbun via Otakomu
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