Many victims of an arson attack on a Japanese animation studio were young with bright futures, some joining only in April, the shaken company president said on Saturday, as the death toll climbed to 34.

Thursday’s attack on Kyoto Animation, well known for its television series and movies, was Japan’s worst mass killing in two decades. It was all the more poignant because of the youth of the victims in a country where the population is among the world’s oldest.

Many of the victims of the attack, in the ancient capital of Kyoto, were young women, company president Hideaki Hatta said.

“Some of them joined us just in April. And on the eighth of July, I gave them a small, but their first, bonus,” he said.

“People who had a promising future lost their lives. I don’t know what to say. Rather than feeling anger, I just don’t have words,” Hatta said.

Fifteen of the victims were in their 20s and 11 were in their 30s, public broadcaster NHK said. Six were in their 40s and one was at least 60. The age of the latest victim, a man who died in hospital, was not known. The names of the victims have not been disclosed.

The studio had about 160 employees with an average age of 33.

Police have confirmed the identity of the suspect as Shinji Aoba, but have declined to comment further.

Aoba lives in a modest, two-floor apartment building 500 km (310 miles) from Kyoto in a rural suburb just outside Omiya, a commuter hub north of Tokyo.

A 27-year-old neighbor said Aoba had once grabbed him and yelled at him over a noise dispute.

“He started yelling at me to my face to shut up. He grabbed me by the collar and started pulling my hair. It was terrifying,” the neighbor, who declined to be identified, said.

Tags: ;