Japan yesterday hanged two men convicted of murder, Japanese Minister of Justice Takashi Yamashita said, bringing the number of executions this year to 15 — tied for the highest amount on record.
With more than 100 inmates on death row, Japan is one of the few developed nations to retain the death penalty and public support for it remains high, despite international criticism, including from rights groups.
The minister named the two men executed as Keizo Kawamura, 60, and Hiroya Suemori, 67, who were convicted of the 1988 strangling of an investment firm chief and an employee.
After stealing ￥100 million (US$902,100 at the current exchange rate) they buried the two bodies in concrete in the mountains. Their capital punishment sentence was finalized in 2004.
“This was an extremely heinous crime that shook society,” Yamashita told reporters at a news conference.
NO END TO EXECUTIONS
The minister, who used to be a prosecutor, said he ordered the executions after careful consideration, and made it clear that Japan would not stop capital punishment any time soon.
“Evil, heinous crimes cannot avoid the death penalty,” he said. “I believe it is not appropriate to abolish the death penalty.”
Japan has so far hanged 15 inmates this year, matching a 2008 record since the nation started publicly announcing executions in 1998.
Thursday’s hangings came five months after the nation carried out the executions of cult members sentenced to death for their role in the fatal 1995 sarin attack on the Tokyo subway and other crimes.
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