Japanese Producer of Anime Hits ‘Suzume,’ ‘Your Name’ Arrested on Child Pornography Charges

A producer involved in some of Japan’s highest-grossing anime blockbusters was arrested in Tokyo this week on suspicion of creating child pornography.

Koichiro Ito, 52, stands accused of coercing a 15-year-old girl he met over social media into sending him nude selfies in September 2021, Japan’s Mainichi Shimbun newspaper reported Thursday. According to another report from leading Tokyo broadcaster TBS, Ito transferred 12,500 yen (about $85) to the girl in exchange for the photos, violating Japan’s Child Prostitution and Pornography Prohibition Act. He was taken into custody near his home in Tokyo’s Shibuya ward on Wednesday.

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Ito’s arrest has sent shockwaves through Japan’s insular anime industry. The executive has anime credits dating back nearly 20 years, and he was the lead producer on anime auteur Makoto Shinkai’s globally beloved recent blockbusters, including Your Name (2016, $358 million worldwide), Weathering With You (2019, $193 million) and Suzume (2022, $323.3 million).

According to Japan’s public broadcaster NHK, Ito has essentially admitted the charges. He told investigators that he had nude images sent to him by underage girls on several occasions, and couldn’t recall which girl the police were referring to with their current case. The police are searching for other potential victims. They began their probe of Ito after coming across his name during the investigation of a separate, unrelated child prostitution case.

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