Police arrested a Japanese man in Shinjuku, Tokyo who threatened Square Enix headquarters with arson via an online form on their website. The incident comes just a few weeks after an attack on an animation studio in Kyoto left 35 people dead.
The man, a delivery worker, reportedly lost while playing a mobile game and sent the message to the company via a feedback form. He demanded a refund for the game and threatened to repeat the Kyoto animation incident.
Police responded swiftly and arrested the man before anything terrible happened. According to Tokyo police, the man admitted that losing made him upset and caused him to send the threatening message. He said he had no intention of acting on his claims. The police searched his home and did not find any materials related to arson. Police located the man by tracking his username on the mobile game.
Death threats don’t often come to pass, but should not be taken likely. It’s good to see the police respond so quickly to the incident and to take these situations seriously, even if it turned out the man had no intention of acting on his threats. A similar thing happened this week then Twitch employees got sent home after shooting threats.
Square Enix hasn’t made any comments about the incident, but as reported by the Anime News Network, this isn’t the first time this year that police have had to step in over a death threat to the company. In March, a 25-year-old nursing home employee sent a message in which he threatened to kill the entire staff.
These days, it’s difficult to separate real death threats from ones that just come from angry internet users. With the anonymity of the web, it seems folks often use aggressive language without repercussion, and the commonality of it can desensitize people who see it as just letting off steam.
Violent attacks like the one in Kyoto, however, show that if even one person decides to act on those aggressive tendencies, it can lead to disastrous results. Police should investigate these kinds of threats, no matter how minimal they seem, in order to keep folks from using this kind of language without consequence.
These kinds of death threats happen often in the gaming community, like the recent bomb threats on Infinity Ward. Prompt responses and stiff consequences, like the reaction in Tokyo, are the only way to show internet commenters that threats like these shouldn’t come lightly.