This is not an isolated incident. Screenshot: Sega/YouTube/Kotaku
A 54-year-old resident of Toyokawa, Japan, was arrested on March 16 for allegedly sending repeated death threats to Sega.
According to Yomiuri, suspect Akira Watanabe is said to have sent 12 threatening emails between December 2021 and February of this year. He allegedly wrote that he would “set the company on fire,” “kill employees,” and even, according to TBS News, “kill the family and children of employees.”
Watanabe reportedly sent emails to Sega’s company contact form from his mobile phone. The suspect was arrested for obstruction of a business and has confessed to sending the emails, saying that he had “lost in an online game and was frustrated.” Local Japanese media has not named the game. Kotaku has reached out to Sega for comment, but did not hear prior to publication.
The threats of setting Sega on fire evoke the Kyoto animation tragedy that left 36 dead in an attack that shook the nation and the world.
In the past few years, there have been other incidents of people getting arrested for similar threats. For example, in September 2019, Tokyo-based game company Akira received threats insinuating murder through its online contact form. It took a year for the possible perpetrator to be located. After a court case, a guilty verdict what finally handed down on October 5, 2021.
In 2020, a high student was arrested for allegedly threatening to blow up Konami and kill company staff. The suspect, who confessed to writing the threats, was upset over connection issues with an online game that caused him to lose. Last year, a 21-year-old college senior was arrested after allegedly threatening to release poison gas at an arcade. He was apparently upset after losing at a crane game.
In the wake of the Kyoto Animation tragedy, game companies and Japanese authorities have shown zero tolerance for letting such threats slide—and for good reason. They are completely unacceptable and never permissible.