Japan Hangs 3 Death Row Inmates in First Executions Since 2019

Die by Hanging
Die by Hanging
  • Japan hangs 3 death row inmates in first executions since 2019

EKO HOT BLOG reports that on Tuesday, Japan killed three death row convicts by hanging, the country’s first executions since 2019 and the first under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Yasutaka Fujishiro, 65, was sentenced to death for murdering seven people in 2004, including his aunt and neighbors, according to the Japanese Justice Ministry.

According to the Justice Ministry, Tomoaki Takanezawa, 54, and Mitsunori Onogawa, 44, killed two employees at pachinko (game) parlors in 2003.

Japan Hangs 3 Death Row Inmates in First Executions Since 2019
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks to reporters at his office in Tokyo on December 17, 2021.

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

All executions in Japan are carried out by hanging. Prisoners often learn of their execution just hours before it’s due to take place. Their families are usually notified about the execution only after it is over, according to rights group Amnesty International.

Japan’s use of the death penalty — and the manner in which it is carried out — has long angered rights groups and campaigners working to abolish the practice.

“The recent appointment of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was a chance for progress on human rights in Japan. But today’s abhorrent resumption of executions is a damning indictment of this government’s lack of respect for the right to life,” said Chiara Sangiorgio, death penalty adviser at Amnesty International, in response to Tuesday’s executions.

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

Only a few countries, including Japan, continue to implement death punishment; among industrialized democracies, only sections of the United States do so. As a first step toward comprehensive abolition, Amnesty International has consistently urged on Japan to declare an immediate formal moratorium on all executions.

According to Reuters, two death row detainees filed a complaint against the government in November, demanding that the government end the “inhumane” practice and seeking compensation for the consequences of the “inhumane” practice.

Japan has resisted demands for reform, and many people in the country believe in the death sentence.

“The abolition of the death penalty is an important issue relating to the foundation of the Japanese criminal justice system,” said Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara at a news conference. “It is not easy to decide on the death penalty, but considering that these crimes are still going on, I don’t believe it is appropriate to abolish the death penalty.”

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