Japan hangs 3 death row inmates in first executions since 2019

One of those put to death was Yasutaka Fujishiro, 65, who murdered seven people, including his aunt and neighbors in 2004, according to the Japanese justice ministry.

The other two, Tomoaki Takanezawa, 54, and Mitsunori Onogawa, 44, killed two employees at pachinko (game) parlors in 2003, the Justice Department confirmed.

“These are extremely brutal cases, causing precious deaths for selfish reasons. I think these are terrible incidents not only for the victims who lost their lives but also for the bereaved families,” said the Minister of Justice. Yoshihisa Furukawa at a press conference.

All executions in Japan are by hanging. Prisoners often learn of their execution just hours before it takes place. Their families are usually not informed of the execution until it is over, according to human rights group Amnesty International.

Japan’s use of the death penalty – and the way it is carried out – has long angered rights groups and activists who are working to end the practice.

“The recent appointment of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was an opportunity to advance human rights in Japan. But today’s odious resumption of executions is a damning condemnation of this government’s lack of respect for the right to life, ”said Chiara Sangiorgio, advisor on the death penalty. to Amnesty International, in response to Tuesday’s executions.

“After two years without executions, this looks like a missed opportunity for Japan to take long overdue steps to end the cruel practice of the death penalty.”

Japan is one of the few countries to continue to apply the death penalty – among industrialized democracies, only parts of the United States have resorted to the practice. Amnesty has repeatedly called on Japan to establish an immediate official moratorium on all executions, the first step towards total abolition.

In November, two death row inmates filed a lawsuit against the government, demanding it change the practice and demanding compensation for the impact of the “inhumane” practice, according to Reuters.

Japan has resisted calls for change, and many in the country support the death penalty.

“The abolition of the death penalty is an important issue linked to the foundation of the Japanese criminal justice system,” Deputy Cabinet Secretary General Seiji Kihara told a press conference. “It is not easy to decide on the death penalty, but given that these crimes are still ongoing, I do not think it is appropriate to abolish the death penalty.”