The suspect in a fire in Japan that killed 25 people died in a hospital where he was being treated for burns and smoke inhalation.

Morio Tanimoto had been investigated on suspicion of arson and murder in the Dec. 17 fire at a mental health clinic in Osaka, western Japan.

He died Thursday, police said on Friday.

Tanimoto, a patient at the clinic, was seen on security camera footage. He had purchased a large amount of gasoline and the incident has been compared to an arson attack in 2019 against an animation studio in Kyoto that killed 36 people.

Japan’s nationally-circulated Yomiuri newspaper said Tanimoto was in a coma, adding that his death would likely mean much of the crime will remain a mystery.

A retired metalworker, Tanimoto had a difficult relationship with his family, according to Japanese media.

The Osaka fire destroyed an eight-story building and people were trapped inside, although firefighters put out the blaze in less than an hour.

This raised serious questions about the safety of the building’s design, as there was only one exit and the elevator and fire escapes were located outside the clinic.

Among those killed were patients and the chief doctor.

The suspect of the 2019 arson at the animation studio, Shinji Aoba, recovered, has been charged and is on trial.

This fire sparked a wave of sympathy both in Japan and abroad, as well as donations for the victims and to rebuild the studio. He had destroyed much of the famous studio’s animation material.

The two fires shocked Japan, a country with relatively low crime. The deeply conformist tendencies of Japanese society sometimes trigger discriminatory attitudes towards mental health.

Associated Australian Press


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