July 19, 2019 / 11:06 AM / 3 months ago

World leaders, Apple CEO offer tributes to Japanese studio after attack

TOKYO, July 19 (Reuters) - Tributes to the Japanese animation studio ravaged in a suspected arson attack lit up social media on Friday, with world leaders and Apple Inc’s chief executive offering condolences to the families of the 33 people who were killed.

The man suspected of torching the studio of Kyoto Animation, which resulted in Japan’s worst mass killing in two decades, did so because he believed the company had plagiarized his novel, media said on Friday.

He wheeled a trolley carrying at least one bucket of petrol to the entrance of the building in Kyoto city, in western Japan, before dousing the area, shouting “die” and setting it ablaze on Thursday, broadcaster Nippon TV said, citing police.

“Canadians send our deepest condolences to the families of those killed in the arson attack in Kyoto that has taken so many innocent lives,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter.

“To the people of Japan – we’re mourning these tragic losses with you, and wishing a quick recovery to everyone who was injured.”

The suspect, identified by public broadcaster NHK as Shinji Aoba, was detained on Thursday shortly after he started the fire. He has not been arrested, NHK said.

“Kyoto Animation is home to some of the world’s most talented animators and dreamers - the devastating attack today is a tragedy felt far beyond Japan,” Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook tweeted.

“KyoAni artists spread joy all over the world and across generations with their masterpieces,” Cook said, using an abbreviation for Kyoto Animation.

Cook also posted condolences in Japanese, as did Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.

Japanese animation, known as “anime”, includes television series and movies. A pillar of Japanese pop culture, it has become a major cultural export, winning fans around the world.

Kyoto Animation produces popular series such as the “Sound! Euphonium”. Its “Free! Road to the World - The Dream” movie is due for release this month.

The studio has an outsized role in Japan’s animation industry that outstrips the list of works it has produced.

“For many people in Taiwan, Kyoto Animation evokes memories of their adolescence,” Taiwan’s Tsai wrote on Twitter. (Reporting by William Mallard Writing by David Dolan Editing by Robert Birsel)

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