Photo/IllutrationShinji Aoba is captured on a security camera near JR Uji Station on July 16, two days before an arson attack at a Kyoto Animation Co. studio. (Provided by a local resident)

The suspect in an arson attack against a prominent Kyoto animation studio that claimed 36 lives has recovered from his burn injuries at least to be informally questioned by prefectural police.

Shinji Aoba, 41, has been undergoing skin grafts at a hospital in Osaka Prefecture. He suffered burns over much of his body during the blaze at the Kyoto Animation Co. studio in Kyoto's Fushimi Ward on July 18, police said.

Aoba, a resident of Saitama, was at one time listed in critical condition. But he is now able to sit in a wheelchair and converse with police, according to sources close to the investigation.

Kyoto prefectural police obtained an arrest warrant for Aoba on suspicion of murder, but have held off arresting him because they were not confident he could withstand being held in detention.

The sources said police spoke with Aoba in the hospital on Nov. 8. Questioning an individual being treated in hospital will likely raise questions about how voluntary the responses were once the case goes to court.

Kyoto police are taking great care to confirm when is the most appropriate time to formally question him. They will consult with the doctors treating Aoba to determine when he should be arrested.

The arrest warrant obtained for Aoba alleges that he set fire to the No. 1 studio of Kyoto Animation around 10:30 a.m. on July 18 by igniting gasoline that he had sprayed on the first floor. Thirty-six company employees in the three-floor studio died and 34 were injured. He could face up to 36 charges of murder and 34 charges of attempted murder.

After setting the blaze, Aoba fled from the scene but was chased down by a Kyoto Animation employee about 100 meters south of the studio.

He told police who arrived on the scene that he set the fire because the company had stolen his novel.