Japan executes three prisoners | Manila weather
TOKYO: Japan hanged three prisoners on Tuesday, its first executions in two years, with the government saying it was necessary to maintain the death penalty amid the persistence of “atrocious crimes”.
Japan is one of the few developed countries to maintain the death penalty, and public support for the death penalty remains high despite international criticism, especially from rights groups.
More than 100 people are currently on death row, most of them for mass murder. Executions are carried out by hanging, usually long after conviction.
One of the three executed on Tuesday was Yasutaka Fujishiro, 65, who killed his 80-year-old aunt, two cousins and four other people in 2004, a justice ministry spokesperson told AFP. .
The other two were Tomoaki Takanezawa, 54, who killed two employees at an arcade game parlor in 2003, and his accomplice Mitsunori Onogawa, 44.
The executions were the first under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who took office in October.
“Whether or not to retain the death penalty is an important issue that concerns the foundation of the Japanese criminal justice system,” said Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara.
“As atrocious crimes continue to occur one after another, it is necessary to execute those with extremely serious guilt, so it is inappropriate to abolish the death penalty.”
The country is in shock after a fire ravaged a mental health clinic in the city of Osaka on Friday, with the death toll rising to 25 as another woman died of her injuries.
Investigators have taken the unusual step of naming the arson suspect although they have yet to announce a criminal investigation.
Japan executed three death row inmates in 2019 and 15 in 2018 – including 13 from the Aum Shinrikyo cult who carried out a deadly sarin gas attack in 1995 on the Tokyo metro.
For decades, authorities informed death row inmates just hours before an execution was carried out.
Two prisoners are suing the government over the system, which they say is illegal and causes psychological distress.
The couple are also seeking 22 million yen ($ 194,000) in compensation for the distress caused by the uncertainty over their execution date.
Documents and news archives show that Japan used to give death row prisoners more notice, but ceased around 1975.
In December 2020, Japan’s highest court overturned a decision blocking the retrial of a man described as the world’s longest-serving death row inmate, sparking new hope for the now 85-year-old.
Iwao Hakamada has been on death row for more than half a century after being convicted in 1968 of robbing and murdering his boss, the man’s wife and their two teenage boys.
But he and his supporters say he only confessed to the crime after an allegedly brutal police questioning that included beatings, and evidence in the case was filed.
Globally, at least 483 people were executed last year in 18 countries, according to Amnesty International.
This represents a decrease of about a quarter from the previous year and corresponds to a downward trend since 2015.
The figure does not, however, include the “thousands” of executions which are said to have taken place in China, which keeps the data secret, as well as in North Korea and Vietnam.
Japan and the United States are the only members of the G7 group of developed countries that still apply the death penalty.