A year and a half after the attack that killed 36 people, mental health questions are no longer a road block to trial.

Among the many things Japan is known for, a lenient criminal justice system isn’t one of them. So it might seem kind of strange that Shinji Aoba, the man who carried out the horrific arson attack on Kyoto Animation in the summer of 2019, still hasn’t been tried.

The 42-year-old Aoba’s role in the attack that killed 36 employees of the anime production company and injured 33 isn’t in any doubt, as he himself told investigators. “I thought that if I sprayed gasoline around the building while setting the fire, I could kill more people, so that’s why I did that.” However, Aoba also sustained severe burns in the fire, and it wasn’t until 10 months after the attack that he had recovered to the point where he was physically able to undergo questioning and be officially placed under arrest.

In the meantime he’s been receiving skin transplant treatments and developing a crush on one of his female medical caregivers, but this week prosecutors were finally able to take an important step. On Wednesday, the Kyoto District Public Prosecutor’s Office released the results of a six-month psychological assessment, meant to determine if Aoba can be held criminally culpable for his actions. The specialists who carried out the study ruled that his actions, such as purchasing a large amount of gasoline prior to the attack act as a fire accelerant, show a level of premeditation contestant with knowledge of his actions’ consequences, and thus have declared his mental health sufficient for him to be placed on trial and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Japan is a country where the death penalty is permissible nationwide, and with the Kyoto Animation arson attack being the country’s largest confirmed mass murder in the modern era, it’s almost a certainty that prosecutors will seek such punishment.

Sources: Livedoor News/Kyodo via Jin, NHK News Web
Top image: Wikipedia/L26
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