Japan hangs 3 death-row inmates in 1st executions in 2 yrs

Kyodo News

Posted at Dec 21 2021 03:27 PM

TOKYO—Three death-row inmates were hanged Tuesday, the Ministry of Justice said, in Japan's first executions since December 2019 and first under the administration of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

The 3 were identified as Yasutaka Fujishiro, 65, who killed 7 of his relatives in Hyogo Prefecture in 2004, and Tomoaki Takanezawa, 54, and Mitsunori Onogawa, 44, who were convicted of killing 2 employees at 2 separate pachinko parlors in Gunma Prefecture in 2003.

Following Tuesday's executions, the number of inmates sitting on death row in Japan stands at 107.

The Kobe District Court in western Japan sentenced Fujishiro to death in May 2009 and the decision was finalized in June 2015 after the Supreme Court rejected an appeal.

Takanezawa and Onogawa, who also robbed 1 of their victims and stole money from 1 of the pachinko parlors, were sentenced to death by the Saitama District Court near Tokyo. 

The death penalty on Takanezawa was finalized in July 2005 after he withdrew his appeal, while Onogawa's sentence was finalized in June 2009 at the Supreme Court.

After the executions, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara told reporters it is "not appropriate to abolish (the country's death penalty system) considering the current situation in which heinous crimes continue to occur."

"Many Japanese think the death penalty is unavoidable in the case of extremely malicious crimes," Kihara said.

More than two-thirds of countries in the world have abolished the death penalty in law or practice, according to Amnesty International.


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