Japanese producer of Anime hits ‘Suzume,’ ‘Your Name’ arrested for soliciting explicit images from minor

This week, Wakayama Prefectural Police arrested Japanese producer Koichiro Ito in Tokyo. Ito is popular among anime fans worldwide for his contributions to some of the highest-grossing anime hits. He is accused of soliciting nude selfies from a 15-year-old girl.

Mainichi Shimbun, a local newspaper in Japan, broke the news on Thursday, stating that the producer of Your Name had met the minor on social media. In September 2021, it was found that the 52-year-old Suzume producer had reportedly forced the 15-year-old girl to give him explicit photos.

According to Tokyo broadcaster TBS, Ito paid the little girl 12,500 yen (about $85) in return for the photos. He was arrested on Wednesday because his actions violated Japan’s Child Prostitution and Pornography Prohibition Act. He lives near Tokyo’s Shibuya ward.

The anime industry and its fan base have been shaken by the shocking news. Ito has been associated with some of the most beloved anime series throughout the years, with credits spanning over 20 years in the industry. Three anime films directed by Makoto Shinkai—Your Name (2016), Weathering With You (2019) and Suzume (2022)—are examples of such works that are well-known beyond the borders of the anime fandom.

NHK, the public broadcaster of Japan, confirmed that Ito had admitted the accusations made against him. Furthermore, during his talks with investigators, he stated that this was not the first time he interacted with an underage girl. He reportedly pushed young girls to send him naked photographs on many occasions. The police are looking for the potential victims so addressed.

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