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Mental illness issues could make death penalty impossible for Kyoto Animation arsonist

24 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

Immediately following the deadly arson attack on anime production company Kyoto Animation last month, police apprehended 41-year-old Shinji Aoba, who was taken into custody near the scene of the crime while saying “They stole my novel” and “I spread the gasoline and lit it with a lighter.”

Aoba, who also suffered burns in the incident, has been hospitalized, and is yet to be formally arraigned. The circumstances under which he was taken into custody, though, as well as security footage of him pushing a cart with two canisters of gasoline in the vicinity of Kyoto Animation’s Fushimi studio prior to the attack, leave little room in which he could plausibly deny being the arsonist. However, his culpability, in a legal sense, could be limited.

In a press conference held the day after the attack, Ryoji Nishiyama, head of the Kyoto Prefectural Police’s First Investigation Department, said “We have information indicating [Aoba] has a mental illness.” 

The exact nature of the purported illness has yet to be disclosed, but Japanese news organization Daily Shincho spoke with several psychological and legal experts as to how Aoba’s mental health could affect what legal repercussions he could face.

Masaru Wakasa, a lawyer who previously served as vice-director of the Public Prosecutors Office’s Tokyo’s Special Investigation Department, says that if Aoba is found t have been acting under a diminished mental capacity while carrying out the attack, there’s a chance he could be found not guilty, in accordance of Article 39 of the Japanese penal code.

Prominent psychiatrist Tamami Katada said that Aoba exhibited signs of what could be schizophrenia or castrophrenia, also known as “thought withdrawal,” in which a person believes that ideas are being forcefully taken from the their mind by outside forces. Katada goes on to say that such a delusion could have fed into a persecution complex and fueled a desire for violent revenge, culminating in the attack. It’s not clear, though, if Katada’s comments were made before or after Kyoto Animation confirmed that it had received a submission from Aoba in one of its regularly held novel-writing competitions.

However, Konan University law professor Osamu Watanabe holds that Aoba’s actions are consistent with someone who was well aware of the lethal effects they would have, and went through with them anyway. He cites the premeditated nature of the attack, which required the purchase and transportation of a large quantity of gasoline, the bag of other tools of destruction, hammers and bladed instruments that Aoba was carrying, and that he was heard by witnesses shouting “Die” during the attack. “It would be strange to say he was even slightly incapable of understanding his actions, and I believe there is ample justification to pursue the death penalty.”

Wakasa is inclined to agree with Watanabe, pointing to how Aoba verbally admitted to setting the fire while he was being apprehended, though the possibility remains that even if Aoba is found guilty, a psychiatric evaluation could make the maximum enforceable punishment life in prison.

Sources: Daily Shincho via Yahoo! News Japan via Jin, Nihon Keizai Shimbun

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Kyoto Animation arson attack prompts call for stricter gas sale regulations in Kyoto

-- Kyoto Animation president wants to turn site of arson attack into memorial park for victims

-- Kyoto Animation accepting direct, individual donations for arson victims via special bank account

© SoraNews24

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

24 Comments
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Kill some random People tell that you have mental illness escape prison sentence and live your life peacefully!! What a country we live with this pathetic judicial system. Government has literally failed to protect us. Government should protect us or abolish this crazy laws and these guys should be executed ASAP..

-3 ( +7 / -10 )

Of course he's mentally ill, nobody burns dozens of people to death while they're in their right mind. But that doesn't mean he's not criminally liable. The legal system in Japan confuses the term mentally ill with insane. If he was insane at the time he committed the crime, meaning unaware of the difference between right and wrong, then he can be judge not guilty by reason of insanity. Sadly for the victims, the legal system in Japan lets people go because they're mentally ill.

1 ( +10 / -9 )

If he’s not convicted and sentenced to death, I can imagine someone else committing a similar crime at a courthouse or police station.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

How about society in Japan actually tackling mental illness properly?

It is a positive that this case will draw more attention to what is not recognized adequately.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

His mental health is irrelevant. He needs to be executed.

-5 ( +9 / -14 )

Go ahead and throw him in the mental hospital, but make sure he is well medicated to the point he won't be able to move for life.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Execution would be the easy way out for him. Only takes a split second for the noose to break his neck so he wouldn't even feel any pain. Better for him to live in a cell (cage) alone for the next 50 years (without any manga, books, TV, Internet etc.) or until he dies.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

The grounds for a mental illness defence are that the perpetrator knew right from wrong at the time of the act, and that he was cognisant of the likely outcome of his actions. Judging from the evidence as reported in the media, if accurate, he should not be allowed to plead insanity.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Uff, that man regardless his mentally illness, should be hanged! We should as ourselves how much of a life does that man really have after having killed 35 souls? He should be sent to God for further judgement, if he's even worthy for a judgement by god.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Prominent psychiatrist Tamami Katada said that Aoba exhibited signs of what could be schizophrenia or castrophrenia, also known as “thought withdrawal,” in which a person believes that ideas are being forcefully taken from the their mind by outside forces. Katada goes on to say that such a delusion could have fed into a persecution complex and fueled a desire for violent revenge, culminating in the attack. 

So?

The guy committed mass murder. What does it matter what his thought processes were. Psychiatrists are more insane than the people they "treat!"

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Mental illness doesn't count. We don't care if he is rehabilitated.

We don't want him back in society.

Punishing him is a must to show what criminals get.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

I'm against the death penalty. If he's mentally competent, life in prison. If he's not, life in a secure psychiatric facility.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

If he truly thinks that people are extracting ideas from his head and that’s what led him to do this, there surely can’t be any hope for rehabilitation. So give the guy the rope. What point is there of keeping him sedated in a psychiatric institution for the rest of his life? That won’t give the families of the victims any sense of closure.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Execution would be the easy way out for him. Only takes a split second for the noose to break his neck so he wouldn't even feel any pain. Better for him to live in a cell (cage) alone for the next 50 years (without any manga, books, TV, Internet etc.) or until he dies.

If you REALLY want to torment him, give him fake copies of manga "produced" by KyoAni that showcase stories taken directly from his notes, as well as fake newspaper clippings talking about the success that KyoAni is having with manga and feature film adaptations of said manga are having. Have the guards casually talk about what a great story it is and how the "geniuses at KyoAni came up with such a great idea" - close enough for him to hear.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Just because you are not stable should not affect the fact that he is a murderer and should be dealt suitable punishment. The death penalty is fine for this dirt bag.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

He is not sick, he is a pathetic loser who killed innocents, he deserves to be hanged ASAP !!..

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Shinji Aoba, sane or insane?

The legal definition of sanity comes down to the ability to distinguish right from wrong.

I'm sure he thought what he did was right. After all, they stole his work, didn't they?

What is right and what is wrong depends largely on viewpoint.

Ending the life of a chicken is right from the point of view of the family who want roast chicken for dinner, but wrong from the point of view of the chicken.

If psychiatry is ever going to make any kind of progress, I think they need to formulate a more accurate definition of sanity.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

His mental health is irrelevant. He needs to be executed.

Nope, that's barbarism. Even more so, if he's mentally unfit.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Only a few countries have the death penalty - so life in prison would be the most common and extreme penalty in those which don't.  Of course Japan does have it, but IMO - life in prison would be the greater penalty in terms of retribution.  Execution is simply 'game over'.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well, execution is cheaper than providing a lifetime's worth of food, accommodation and therapy. Just saying.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

This guy needs to looked up indefinitely not only for the crime he's committed, but his own protection, I am sure that the relative will be seeking some sort of revenge.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

But that doesn't mean he's not criminally liable. The legal system in Japan confuses the term mentally ill with insane.

Whatever gave you that silly idea? There is a clear definition of it in Japanese law. Just because you don't understand doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Sorry I am too lazy to read the latest updates on the suspect but is he awake and responding to authorities? Also I understand he was severely burned too but can he move?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

While I am completely opposed to the death penalty for several reasons me must stop finding excuses for certain crimes such as the perpetrator had a "bad youth" or was "mentally unstable".

Millions of people had a bad youth and/or are mentally unstable but the vast majority don't commit crimes and actually try do something productive with their lives.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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