Profile of Kyoto Animation arson, murder defendant Aoba Shinji

Aoba Shinji, who is on trial for a deadly 2019 arson attack on a Kyoto Animation studio, was born in Saitama Prefecture, near Tokyo, in 1978. He is 45 years old.

Investigators say Aoba is a high school graduate, who attended evening school. They also say he worked part-time at the Saitama prefectural government for three years until 1998.

His father died in 1999, when Aoba was 21 years old. After that, he cut off contact with his siblings, and it is believed that he lived alone.

Aoba was later involved in a robbery. He was admitted to a rehabilitation facility for offenders in Saitama City in 2016, when he was 38.

An official associated with the facility remembered him as a quiet person, who would greet others, express his gratitude and normally engage in daily conversations. The person said Aoba liked reading and often went to a nearby library.

Aoba left the facility after six months. He is believed to have lived alone in an apartment in Saitama City for about three years. He reportedly resided there until the attack on the animation studio occurred.

The resident of the apartment next door says Aoba banged on his door four days before the arson attack and blamed him for noise that was coming from a different unit.

The man says he tried to explain that he was not making the noise. He says Aoba suddenly grabbed him by the collar, and he found it impossible to communicate with the defendant.

Police officials say Aoba traveled to Kyoto three days before the arson attack and checked out the animation studio. They say he also bought jerry cans and a lighter at a DIY store.

On July 18, 2019, Aoba is said to have purchased gasoline at a gas station near the animation studio in the morning. He then allegedly put the fuel on a rolling cart and transported it to the studio.

The arson attack left 36 employees dead and 32 others injured. Aoba has been charged with murder and arson. It was the deadliest murder case since 1989, the earliest year for which records are available.