Japan hangs 3 in first use of capital punishment in 2 years

seattletimes.com -- Dec 21
Japan hanged three death-row inmates on Tuesday, its first executions in two years, amid growing criticism by human rights groups of the country’s use of the death penalty.

One of the three, Yasutaka Fujishiro, was convicted of killing seven people and setting fire to their house in 2004, while the other two, Tomoaki Takanezawa and Mitsunori Onogawa, were convicted in the 2003 killings of two pinball parlor employees.

Executions are carried out in high secrecy in Japan, where prisoners are not informed of their fate until the morning they are hanged. Since 2007, Japan has begun disclosing the names of those executed and some details of their crimes, but information is still limited.

Justice Minister Yoshihisa Furukawa said at a news conference that the three had committed “extremely ghastly” crimes and the punishment was appropriate.

Furukawa declined to comment on the timing of the executions, often carried out during the year-end holiday season when parliament is in recess, which opponents say is an attempt by the government to reduce criticism. Japan’s parliament had its final session of the year on Tuesday.

The executions were the first since Dec. 26, 2019, when a Chinese citizen convicted in the 2003 killing of a family of four in Fukuoka was put to death. He was one of three hanged that year. In 2018, Japan executed 15, including 13 Aum Shinrikyo cult members convicted in a deadly 1995 nerve gas attack on Tokyo’s subways.

法務省は21日朝、東京と大阪で確定死刑囚3人の刑を執行しました。岸田内閣のもとでは初めての死刑執行となります。 - ANNnewsCH