The man suspected to have carried out a deadly arson attack on a Kyoto Animation Co. studio earlier this month may have submitted his work to a contest run by the company, a lawyer representing the studio said Tuesday.
The studio, which hosts the novel writing contest almost every year, received an entry from a person named Shinji Aoba who gave his address as being in Minuma Ward in the city of Saitama.
The suspect, who has been hospitalized with severe burns, is named Shinji Aoba, lived in the same city and has alleged the production company "stole a novel."
The lawyer said the submitted novel was not shared within the company and the work did not pass the competition's preliminary screening stage. The studio did not reveal when it received the application and novel.
It remains unconfirmed that the person who made the submission is the same Aoba who allegedly carried out the arson attack, but the studio is "certain there were no identical aspects or similarities between its works (and the submitted piece)," the lawyer said.
Large amounts of blank manuscript paper were found in the suspect's apartment, according to investigative sources.
(Shinji Aoba pictured by a security camera on July 16, 2019.)
The company hosts the "Kyoto Animation Award," to which any writer, regardless of status as professional or amateur, can submit their pieces, including handwritten ones. Competition winners can see their work made into an animation series and published as a book.
Police suspect Aoba may have held a grudge against the studio.
On July 18, Aoba is believed to have purchased and carried to the studio 40 liters of gasoline in two cans on a cart, entered the building in Kyoto's Fushimi Ward screaming "Die!" and ignited about 10 liters of the fuel, resulting in the deaths of 35 people in their 20s to 50s.
He likely bought empty gasoline containers at a hardware store located directly 5 kilometers from the studio, put them on a handcart and pushed it all the way to the area of the targeted buildings, the sources said.
The suspect was also spotted with a backpack at several different locations related to the studio prior to the attack.