Japan executes three prisoners on death row, first since 2019

Three death row inmates have been hanged in Japan, in the country’s first executions since 2019.

They were identified as Yasutaka Fujishiro, Tomoaki Takanezawa and Mitsunori Onogawa.

Fujishiro, 65, was convicted for killing seven relatives in 2004. Takanezawa, 54 and Onogawa, 44 were convicted for killing two employees at two separate pachinko parlours in 2003, reported AFP news agency.

While Fujishiro was sentenced to death in 2009, his sentence was only finalised in the Supreme Court in 2015. Takanezawa’s death penalty was finalised in July 2005 and Onogawa’s in June 2009.

Two-thirds of the countries in the world have abolished the death penalty, according to Amnesty International. But in Japan, there are about 107 more inmates on the death row.

Justice minister Yoshihisa Furukawa, who ordered Tuesday’s executions, had said earlier that the death penalty could not be avoided for crimes that have serious consequences.

After the executions, Mr Furukawa said that they had been ordered “after giving careful considerations again and again”, reported The Japan Times.

In a separate press conference, deputy chief cabinet secretary Seiji Kihara told reporters it was “not appropriate to abolish [the country’s death penalty system] considering the current situation in which heinous crimes continue to occur”.

These executions were the first under prime minister Fumio Kishida, who took office in October.

They were last carried out in 2019, when three death-row inmates were executed. Before that, 15 inmates—including 13 from the Aum Shinrikyo cult that carried out a fatal sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995—were executed in 2018.

In the last year, 483 people were executed in 18 countries across the world, according to Amnesty International. However, this does not include data from China, North Korea and Vietnam, where such executions data is not available in the public domain.

Of the G7 countries, Japan and US are the only members that still have the death penalty.

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