Suzume, Your Name producer arrested for soliciting explicit images from minor - Hindustan Times

Koichiro Ito, Suzume, Your Name producer, arrested for soliciting explicit images from minor

Feb 23, 2024 03:09 PM IST

Renowned Japanese producer of anime blockbusters Suzume and Your Name faces child pornography charges.

Koichiro Ito, the Japanese producer who contributed to some of the highest-grossing anime hits revered by fans worldwide, was arrested in Tokyo by Wakayama Prefectural Police this week. He's been accused of allegedly soliciting nude selfies from a 15-year-old girl.

Koichiro Ito was a longtime collaborator with Makoto Shinkai on films like Your Name, Weathering With You and Suzume.(X)
Koichiro Ito was a longtime collaborator with Makoto Shinkai on films like Your Name, Weathering With You and Suzume.(X)

Japan's local newspaper, Mainichi Shimbun, outed the news on Thursday, claiming that the Your Name producer had met the minor on social media. The 52-year-old Suzume producer was found to have allegedly coerced the 15-year-old girl into sending him explicit images in September 2021.

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Tokyo broadcaster TBS also reported that Ito transferred 12,500 yen (around $85) to the young girl in exchange for the pictures. As this violates Japan's Child Prostitution and Pornography Prohibition Act, he was taken into custody on Wednesday. He lives near Tokyo's Shibuya ward.

The shocking news has created cracks across the anime industry and its fanbase community. With Ito's industry credits dating back approximately 20 years, he's been held responsible for possibly some of the most fan-favourite anime titles over the years. Your Name (2016), Weathering With You (2019) and Suzume (2022) - all Makoto Shinkai directorials - are three such anime releases that are even recognised beyond the anime fan community.

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Japan's public broadcaster NHK confirmed that Ito has admitted to the charges against him. On top of that, in his talks with the investigators, he added that this wasn't the only time he engaged with an underage girl. He'd reportedly pushed young girls to send him nude images on several occasions. The police are on the lookout for the potential victims so addressed.

Ito's pedophilic associations came to light during the investigation of a separate, unrelated child prostitution case.

Reactions to the Your Name producer news:

Anime fans were undoubtedly profoundly hurt as the disturbing development significantly fractured their original heartwarming connections with the anime films that have often been the gateway to new fans. “Is nothing sacred anymore, such a good movie hope it doesn't put an unnecessary stain on its legacy”, commented an Instagram user.

Another one wrote: “Y'know what I think I'm done idolizing celebrities or at this point anyone with clout because too many times I've had this happen to me and it hurts more and more everytime, never like anyone because at this point anyone can be a pedo”. A third netizen chimed in: “Ahhh this is a bad look damn the anime world takes a L here”.

Twitterati was equally disappointed. “What a monumental disappointment!!! Those are my favourite movies!!! But I hope this doesn't affect the rest of the team that worked on making them negatively”, came one response on X (formerly Twitter).

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