Hanging Reportage


2016



JIADEP Note: Junko Yoshida, only the fifth woman to be hung since 1950, did not actually participate in the murder but was the so called "master mind" of the incident. She was still appealing her case at the time, and this execution is a tragedy.

SEE the Center for Prisoner Rights protest of this travesty


Yasutoshi Kamata (male aged 75)
Junko Yoshida ( female aged 56)

Japan sends two more inmates to the gallows
March 26, 2016

by Shusuke Murai

Staff Writer



Two death row inmates were hanged Friday morning, according to the Justice Ministry, bringing to 16 the number of executions carried out under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration since taking power in 2012.

The two prisoners were Yasutoshi Kamata, 75, and Junko Yoshida, 56. Yoshida is only the fifth woman to face the gallows according to ministry records that date back to 1950, and the first hanged since 2012.

Kamata was sentenced to death in 2005 for killing five females in Osaka between 1985 and 1994, including a 9-year-old girl. Kamata abducted the girl to molest her, and eventually strangled her to death. He was also found guilty of kidnapping, having demanded a ransom from the girl’s father.

Yoshida, a former nurse from Fukuoka Prefecture, was convicted for conspiring with three other hospital employees in 1998 and 1999 to kill two of their husbands in schemes to pocket ¥67 million yen in insurance money. She was found guilty for being the mastermind behind the killings and sentenced to death in 2010.

Justice Minister Mitsuhide Iwaki, who signed the order for the executions, emphasized they were only carried out after “careful examination,” and it was determined there was no valid reason for retrials.

“These two atrocious cases claimed the precious lives of the victims for extremely selfish reasons. I feel sorrow for those who were murdered and their families,” he told a news conference following the hangings.

The last time Japan hanged a death row inmate was in December.

The executions Friday were the second time capital punishment has been carried out since Iwaki took over the ministry five months ago. A total of 16 death row inmates have now been hanged under the current Abe administration.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International Japan, a human rights group opposed to capital punishment, criticized the latest executions, saying a string of capital punishment cases is evidence the administration is “disregarding lives.”

“From the international perspective, by keeping this atrocious, inhumane punishment it seems that . . . (Japan) disregards human rights by going against the (international) trend to abolish the death penalty,” the group said in a statement. “We extremely regret the executions this time, especially when the country is about to play a role in leading the international society as the host country of the G-7 Ise-Shima summit.”

There are now 124 inmates on death row in Japan after Friday’s hangings, of which 89 are seeking retrials and 22 are seeking amnesties, according to the Justice Ministry.

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Reportage of Hangings in Japan
From Domestic and Foreign Sources
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July 29, 2010 Hangings

Keiko Chiba, Amnesty International member and former abolitioninst, becomes first Minister of Justice to observe executions.

July 29, 2010 Japan Times

By SETSUKO KAMIYA and JUN HONGO
Staff writers

Two inmates were hanged Wednesday July 28 in the first executions since the Democratic Party of Japan took power 10 months ago.

Eyewitness: Justice Minister Keiko Chiba holds a news conference at the ministry to announce the executions of Kazuo Shinozawa (below left) and Hidenori Ogata at the Tokyo Detention House earlier that day.





Kazuo Shinozawa (left) and Hidenori Ogata (right)
KYODO PHOTO
News photo

Justice Minister Keiko Chiba attended the executions of Kazuo Shinozawa and Hidenori Ogata at the Tokyo Detention House. It was the first time a justice minister has attended a hanging.

"The execution was being carried out by my order, thus I believed that it was my responsibility to see it with my own eyes. I have confirmed that the execution was performed properly," said Chiba, an opponent of the death penalty.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku backed Chiba, telling reporters, "The executions took place in accordance with the law and following an appropriate judgment by the justice minister."

Asked about the timing of the hangings, the top government spokesman denied any political motivation or connection to any specific issue.

But the opposition camp was quick to hit the minister's timing, noting she had lost her Upper House seat in the election earlier this month.

Chiba "never signed executions while she was a lawmaker. But now as a private citizen, she quickly gave the go-ahead. I don't understand it," Your Party Secretary General Kenji Eda said.

By law, an execution must be carried out within five days after the justice minister signed the order, indicating the order may have been signed last weekend. Chiba had her Diet member status until Sunday.

Chiba repeatedly told the press she did not choose the timing of the executions.

"I have taken enough time to look into the cases carefully (to ensure) there weren't any problems, and as a consequence they were carried out now," she said, adding the review process started before the election.

Shinozawa, 59, was sentenced to death for torching a jewelry shop in Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, in June 2000 during a ¥140 million robbery, killing six female employees.

Ogata, 33, was sentenced to death for murdering a man and woman and for attempting to murder two other women in Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture, in 2003.

Chiba, a lawyer, refused to go into detail about the hangings, except to say she "thought long and hard about the death penalty and felt strongly the need for thorough deliberations about capital punishment among the public."

After the executions, Chiba said she ordered the formation of a study group on capital punishment. When she took the justice portfolio last September, she said she planned to push the debate on capital punishment, but little has taken place.

She said the study group will look at the issue from all perspectives, including whether to maintain or abolish the death penalty.

The group will be made up of officials of the Justice Ministry, but Chiba said she will keep its deliberations open and invite outside experts to express their opinions.

"Interest in the criminal justice system is growing because of the lay judge system, and members of the general public now have the responsibility of deciding death sentences. Under these circumstances, I will publicize the results of the study group and make this an opportunity for the public to discuss capital punishment," Chiba said.

Chiba is to remain justice minister until September, when the DPJ will hold a presidential election.

"I don't believe that the study group will reach a quick conclusion, but something will certainly come out of it. I'm going to hear various opinions and push the discussion forward," she said.

Asked why she had gone forward with the hangings, Chiba responded, "It's part of the job of justice minister, and as minister, I've been aware of that."

To foster debate on capital punishment, Chiba said she ordered the ministry to allow the media to report details about the death chamber at the Tokyo Detention House.Till now, the Justice Ministry has barred the public from the gallows site, claiming it is too solemn a place for public viewing.

As of Wednesday, there were 107 death row inmates nationwide.

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Japan hangs 2 death row inmates, 1st execution in 1 year


Wednesday 28th July, 10:48 AM JST

TOKYO —

Japan hanged two death row inmates Wednesday in the first execution under the Democratic Party of Japan government launched last September, Justice Minister Keiko Chiba said. The two are Kazuo Shinozawa, 59, who was accused of murder in 2000 involving six female clerks at a jewelry store in Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, and Hidenori Ogata, 33, who was responsible for killing a man and woman and seriously injuring two others in Saitama Prefecture in 2003, according to the Justice Ministry.

Chiba said she herself attended the execution at the Tokyo Detention House. ‘‘I attended the executions today as I believe it is my duty to see through (the process) as the person who orders it,’’ she told a press conference. It was probably the first time that a justice minister attended an execution, according to Chiba. While declining to comment on her personal views, Chiba expressed readiness to establish a panel at the Justice Ministry to study the death penalty and to allow news media to visit the death chamber at the Tokyo Detention House.

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July 28, 2009 Hangings


3 death row inmates executed
Tuesday 28th July, 2009
Kyodo News Agency


JDPIC note: Today's hangings include Chen Detong, a Chinese national. Chen was still appealing his case. We are trying to ascertain how many non-Japanese have been executed in the post-war era. Amnesty International Japan has provided one other name, and indicated that the names of those executed before 1993 were not always released. We hope to provide more information in the future.



Japan executed three death row inmates Tuesday, Justice Minister Eisuke Mori announced, conducting its first hangings in six months and the first since the lay judge system was launched in May.

It was the third round of hangings under Mori, bringing the total executed under him to nine. The previous hangings took place Jan 29.

The three executed Tuesday are Yukio Yamaji, 25, who was convicted of killing two sisters in Osaka in 2005, Chen Detong, a 41-year-old Chinese national who killed three Chinese in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, in 1999, and Hiroshi Maeue, 40, who killed three people he met through a website for people planning to commit suicide in 2005, according to ministry officials.

The executions brought the total number of death row inmates to 101, of whom 63 are seeking retrials. The three executed Tuesday are assumed not to have been asking for new trials as it is believed that would normally preclude them from being put on the execution list.

The executions of the three were all carried out in two to three years after their death sentences were finalized, indicating a trend of shortening the waiting period.

‘‘I did not consider the pace of executions (when making the decision),’’ Mori said during a press conference.

Executions had been carried out at a pace of one every two to three months under Kunio Hatoyama, who assumed the post of justice minister in 2007. The minister is responsible for signing execution orders.

But they have become less frequent under Mori, who has voiced doubts over a Cabinet Office survey in 2004 that showed over 80 percent of Japanese people supported the death penalty.

He has also welcomed public debate over the death penalty as a result of the introduction of the lay judge system, under which citizens and professional judges must together judge serious criminal cases and decide on penalties including death.

The latest executions brought mixed reactions from people involved in the cases.

‘‘I feel better now,’’ said Kazuo Uehara, 60, whose two daughters—Asuka, 27, and Chihiro, 19—were murdered by Yamaji in their apartment.

Shingo Uchiyama, who served as Yamaji’s lawyer in an earlier case in which he killed his mother when he was a teen, expressed regret at the execution, saying, ‘‘To a certain degree, I had expected this. But I wanted to hear his true feelings, even just a single word. I wanted to tell him that I want him to live.’’

Yamaji had said ‘‘I was not supposed to be born’’ in a letter addressed to his lawyer, and withdrew his appeal against his death sentence given in 2006. He said he wanted to be executed within six months after his death sentence was finalized in May 2007.

Chen, who killed three compatriots and seriously injured two others by stabbing them in revenge for an assault on him, had told Forum 90, a civic group opposed to the death penalty, in response to a survey that he would do anything to make up for what he did.

‘‘Whatever the bereaved families want me to do, I will do. If they want my life, I will give it to them,’’ he wrote, but he also said he did not think he would get the death sentence and mentioned his hope to return to his country.

Maeue, who killed three people including a 14-year-old boy by suffocating them for sexual satisfaction, said in response to the survey that ‘‘I have many things I think about the death penalty system,’’ but did not elaborate.

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Lawmakers, civic groups criticize latest executions
Wednesday 29th July, 2009


A group of lawmakers and civic groups against the death penalty criticized the execution of three death row inmates Tuesday, saying the Justice Ministry had tried to divert people’s attention by choosing a time when people are preoccupied with next month’s election. ‘‘There was no reason to rush and execute these people in the face of a possible change of government and the introduction of the lay judge system,’’ said Nobuto Hosaka, who belongs to the Japan Parliamentary League Against the Death Penalty.

Other groups also released statements in protest at the first hangings in Japan for six months. Makoto Teranaka, secretary general of Amnesty International Japan, said that through the latest executions the Justice Ministry ‘‘conveyed a strong message that the death penalty will be maintained no matter what kind of government is installed.’’ The anti-death penalty campaigners also said the death penalty will not prevent future crimes but even trigger them, as a recent trend has shown that some people commit crimes to fulfill their suicidal desire to be given a death sentence, and called for public debate over the penalty.

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Foreigner among 3 inmates hanged
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
2009/7/29



A Chinese national and two other death row inmates were executed Tuesday, raising questions about the timing of the hangings and triggering protests from critics of capital punishment.

They were the first executions to be carried out while the Diet is dissolved since at least 1993, according to a citizens group opposed to capital punishment.

It was the third round of hangings under Justice Minister Eisuke Mori, bringing the total to nine since he took office last September.

The executions leave 101 convicts on death row.

Hiroshi Maeue, 40, who killed three people in Osaka and Hyogo prefectures between February and June 2005, was put to death at the Osaka Detention House, the Justice Ministry said.

Maeue met the victims, aged 14 to 25, through a website for people planning to commit suicide.

Yukio Yamaji, 25, who murdered two sisters, aged 19 and 27, at an apartment in Osaka in November 2005, was also hanged at the same detention house, the ministry said.

Chinese national Chen Detong, 41, killed three compatriots and injured three others in Kawasaki in May 1999. He was executed at the Tokyo Detention House, the ministry said.

Chen was the first foreign national put to death since the government began releasing the names of executed convicts in December 2007.

The Osaka District Court sentenced Maeue to death in 2007 and Yamaji in 2006. The executions took place about two years after Maeue's sentence was finalized, and two years and one month after Yamaji's fate was sealed.

Chen was sentenced to death by the Kawasaki branch of the Yokohama District Court in 2001. His sentence was finalized in 2006.

Under Kunio Hatoyama, who served as justice minister for about a year from August 2007, executions occurred at a rate of roughly once every two months for a total of 13. Initially, Mori maintained a similar pace, signing death warrants for two death row inmates last October and four in January.

"I'm not conscious of the timing at all," Mori said at a news conference Tuesday, referring to the six-month lull in executions.

"I'm still justice minister even though the Lower House has been dissolved (for the Aug. 30 election)," he said. "As such, I calmly performed my duty as a state minister."

However, Tuesday's executions drew criticism from those who oppose capital punishment.

"I can't help but wonder about the timing of these executions, when it's hard for Diet members to voice their objection. They were conducted in a manner in which nobody has to take responsibility," said Nobuto Hosaka, a former Lower House member. He belongs to a league of Diet members seeking to abolish the death penalty.

The Justice Ministry was apparently keen to carry out executions ahead of Monday's start of the first trial under the new citizen judge system.

"A longer interval (from the last executions) would make it difficult for citizens, who will serve as lay judges, to understand the necessity of capital punishment," said a senior ministry official.

A ministry official said, "A series of developments had kept executions from being conducted," apparently referring to, among other things, the release in June of a man wrongfully held for murder for more than 17 years based on faulty DNA evidence.

The man has won the right to a retrial to clear his name. (IHT/Asahi: July 29,2009)

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Yomiuri Shimbun
ANALYSIS / Time on death row falls to 2-3 years
Aki Nakamura
Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer


Death row inmates are currently being executed about two to three years after their sentences are finalized, a significant decline from the 10-year period through 2007 during which inmates waited an average of eight years before their sentences were carried out.

Three death row inmates were executed Tuesday, the first executions since the May implementation of the lay judge system in which ordinary citizens can mete out capital punishment together with professional judges.

Two of the three men executed--Yukio Yamaji and Hiroshi Maeue--had withdrawn their appeals against their death sentences, thereby rendering them final. Yamaji was executed about two years and two months after his sentence was finalized, and Maeue was executed about two years and one month after his became final.

Chen Detong was executed about three years after his death sentence was finalized.

There were 35 inmates executed during the 10 year period through 2007, waiting an average of eight years before they were hanged. The amount of time inmates currently wait before their sentences are carried out has been reduced significantly.

Following Tuesday's executions, there are 101 death row inmates, 63 of whom are seeking retrials. As a result, there will be an increase in the number of prisoners whose sentences are implemented after a longer period of time.

However, some inmates have accepted their sentences and asked that they be carried out, like Yamaji, Maeue and Mamoru Takuma, who was executed in 2004 for his fatal attack on eight children at Ikeda Primary School in Osaka Prefecture, just one year after his death sentence had been finalized. The execution of prisoners such as these are being carried out more swiftly.

Tuesday's execution under current Justice Minister Eisuke Mori was the first in six months. Executions were carried out every two to three months under former Justice Minster Kunio Hatoyama.

Some believe such factors as the decision to begin a retrial in the Ashikaga murder case are behind this increase in the time between executions.
(Jul. 29, 2009)

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Japan Times
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Three killers are sent to the gallows
Seven hanged so far this year
By MINORU MATSUTANI
Staff writer


Three convicted murderers were hanged Tuesday, the Justice Ministry said, bringing the number of executions this year to seven and maintaining the fast pace that saw 15 people sent to the gallows in 2008.

Hanged were a double-killer and two triple-killers, including one who met his victims through a suicide Web site.

It was the third set of execution orders signed by Justice Minister Eisuke Mori, who sent four inmates to the gallows Jan. 29 and two others last October. He assumed the post last September.

"I just conducted my duty as justice minister," Mori said at a news conference following the executions.

Asked why he signed off on the executions at a time of political instability, he said, "I am still the justice minister, even after the Lower House was dissolved."

Prime Minister Taro Aso dissolved the chamber July 21 and called the election for Aug. 30. Mori, a Lower House member until the dissolution, is expected to be busy preparing for his re-election campaign.

Human rights group Amnesty International Japan blasted the justice minister's action.

"With the Lower House election coming up in August, it is almost certain that Justice Minister Mori, the person with the supreme authority to sign off on executions, will resign. Conducting executions at a time like this is effectively the same as committing the act with nobody assuming responsibility," the group charged in a statement.

Executions have been on the rise in recent years. Mori's immediate predecessor, Okiharu Yasuoka, signed off on three executions last September even though he held the office for only about a month.

The man he replaced, Kunio Hatoyama, the older brother of Democratic Party of Japan President Yukio Hatoyama, ordered 13 executions during his 12-month stint that started in August 2007, the most hangings by a single justice minister since at least 1993.

Mori disclosed the names of the prisoners, a practice started by Hatoyama.

Chen Detong, 41, a Chinese, was convicted of killing two men and a woman and attempting to murder another man and woman with a knife in 1999 because they allegedly violently mistreated him at the apartment they shared in Kawasaki. He was hanged at the Tokyo Detention Center.

Yukio Yamaji, 25, was convicted of raping and slashing a woman and her sister to death and torching their condominium in 2005 in Osaka. He was executed at the Osaka Detention Center.

Hiroshi Maeue, 40, was convicted of killing three people he met via an online bulletin board for those wishing to commit suicide on three separate occasions in Osaka Prefecture from February to June 2005.

In all three cases, he strangled the victims — a female and two males, one of whom was 14 years old. According to a document provided by the Justice Ministry, Maeue became sexually aroused by the sight of people struggling while being strangled.

He was also hanged at the Osaka Detention Center.

Chen's death sentence was finalized July 15, 2006, Yamaji's on May 31, 2007, and Maeue's on July 5, 2007.

The number of death-row inmates now stands at 101.

Amnesty International Japan also said in its statement that more than 70 percent of countries have either abolished the death sentence or have otherwise effectively halted executions.

South Korea has staged no executions in 10 years, while Taiwan has abstained for three years, Amnesty said.

The United States, the only country in the Group of Eight besides Japan that has capital punishment on the books, has seen states carrying out fewer executions, while Islamic countries, generally considered disposed to the death penalty, also are becoming more circumspect about executions, the group said.

Until 2007, executions in China, which puts far more people to death than any other country, were trending down. However, in 2008 the figure jumped to at least 1,718 from some 470 the year before, the group said, adding, however, that since Beijing last year changed the way executions are counted, it cannot say definitively if they are on the rise or not.

Nonetheless, Japan is one of the few countries where executions are on the rise, it said.

Last Dec. 18 the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for a halt in executions.

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総選挙直前の死刑執行に疑問の声 法相「職責を粛々と」
2009
728152


法務省は28日、3人の死刑執行に踏み切った。政権交代をかけた衆院選の直前。野党の死刑反対派の議員からは批判の声が上がった。

 法務省内で記者会見した森法相は、半年ぶりの執行について「間隔や客観情勢との関係において、時期は全く意識していない」と強調した。衆院が解散した政治的な空白期に執行した理由を問われると「解散しても法務大臣であり、大臣としての職責を粛々と果たした」と語った。

 死刑に反対する国会議員でつくる「死刑廃止議員連盟」の保坂展人・前衆院議員は「国会議員が声を上げにくいこの時期を選んで、だれも責任を取らないような形で執行したとしか考えられない」と批判。死刑に反対する市民団体「フォーラム90」の関係者も「正直言って、総選挙前にあるとは思わなかった」と驚きを隠さなかった。

 フォーラム90によると、衆院解散中の執行は93年に一時止まっていた死刑執行が再開されて以来、例がない。

 法務省は、批判を覚悟のうえで執行にこだわったようだ。鳩山元法相以降続いていた「約2カ月〜3カ月に1回」という執行のペースは崩れていた。17年半ぶりに受刑者が釈放され、再審開始が決まった「足利事件」などがあり、「執行しようと思っても、見送らざるを得ない事情が続いた」(幹部)という背景があった。

 だが、初めての裁判員裁判が8月3日に東京地裁で開かれることが決まった。ある幹部は「これ以上、期間が開いてしまうと、裁判員制度を担う市民たちに死刑制度の必要性を理解してもらえなくなる」との思いを漏らした。(市川美亜子、延与光貞)

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From CNN
Japan executes four death-row inmates

* Japan executed 15 inmates in 2008 and 95 inmates sit on Japan's death row

From Kyung Lah
CNN



TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- Japan executed four convicted killers on death row on Thursday, the government said, marking the first set of executions in the country since October 2008.

All four men were hanged, Japan's primary method of execution, the Justice Ministry said. The ministry identified the inmates as: 58-year-old Tadashi Makino, convicted of murdering four women in separate home invasion robberies; 44-year-old Yukinari Kawamura and 39-year-old Tetsuya Sato, both convicted of killing two women and burning their bodies in steel barrels; and 32-year-old Shojiro Nishimoto, convicted of murdering four people in separate home invasion robberies.

The executions represented blatant human rights violations, said Amnesty International spokesman Makoto Teranaka. "Japan is going against the rest of the world by increasing the pace of executions, at a time when other countries are slowing their pace."

Japan's death penalty policy has not seen any major public opposition and few protest these executions. To that, Teranaka says, "The Japanese government's explanation was that public opinion favored the executions of these men. We are angry that they choose public opinion over human rights. To form a balanced public opinion is the government's responsibility."
Don't Miss

* Japan executes serial killer

Japan executed 15 inmates in 2008 and 95 inmates currently sit on Japan's death row. Japan's rate of executions since August 2007 has been approximately one execution every two to three months.

The nation experienced an informal moratorium on capital punishment when Seiken Sugiura, Justice Minister from 2005 - 2006 under Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, publicly stated he would not sign the execution orders, based on his Buddhist beliefs. Japan's justice minister needs to sign off on the execution certificates in order to carry out the death penalty.

According to Amnesty International, 59 nations still allow the death penalty for what the organization calls "ordinary crimes." The group describes "exceptional crimes" as those committed in circumstances such as war.

The vast majority of executions occur in a handful of nations: the United States, China, Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, Amnesty International said


〜〜〜〜


4 death-row inmates executed in Tokyo, Nagoya and Fukuoka

Thursday 29th January, 04:27 AM JST

TOKYO


Japan on Thursday hanged four death-row inmates, conducting the first set of executions this year and also the first in about three months, bringing the remaining number of inmates on death row to 95.

Justice Minister Eisuke Mori, who announced the executions at a news conference, said he had fully scrutinized the cases before issuing the execution order, which he claimed has nothing to do with Diet schedules.

Thursday’s set of executions was the second under Mori since Prime Minister Taro Aso took office in September last year and appointed Mori to the justice portfolio. The ministry had last conducted executions Oct 28, hanging two inmates.

Among the four executed were Shojiro Nishimoto, 32, who had been convicted of killing four people, and Tadashi Makino, 58, who had been found guilty of killing a woman and injuring two others. The remaining two were Yukinari Kawamura, 44, and Tetsuya Sato, 39, who were convicted of burning two people to death in conspiracy.

Nishimoto was hanged at the Tokyo detention house, Makino at the Fukuoka detention house, and Kawamura and Sato at the Nagoya detention house.

‘‘Each of the convicts was truly brutal for claiming the precious lives of others out of their really egoistic motives,’’ Justice Minister Mori said at the news conference. ‘‘As justice minister, I have quietly performed my duties.’’

Makoto Miyazaki, head of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, called for a suspension of executions for a certain period of time, saying that now is the time for Japanese society to discuss the problems of capital punishment and to pursue its reforms.

The Justice Ministry has been carrying out executions at a rate of about once every two to three months from the time Kunio Hatoyama was appointed justice minister in August 2007 by then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Makino had been on the death row for 15 years and two months, Kawamura and Sato for two years and six months, and Nishimoto for two years.

Nishimoto stabbed a 59-year-old taxi driver to death in Kasugai, Aichi Prefecture, in January 2004. He also strangled or fatally stabbed three others in Nagano Prefecture from April through September that year and made away with cash, according to final court findings.

Makino intruded into a home in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture, and stabbed a 25-year-old woman to death in March 1990, when he was on parole. He also injured the victim’s mother and a female passer-by.

Kawamura and Sato abducted the 64-year-old wife of a coffeehouse operator and her younger sister and burned them to death in drums.

For three of the four inmates, less than three years had passed following the finalization of their death sentences, representing a sharply brief period of time compared with the average eight years for those who were executed in the 10 years through 2007, according to the Justice Ministry.

Fifteen death-row inmates were executed in 2008. Of the 15, less than four years had passed for 12 of them following the finalization of their sentences. Less than two years had passed for the two of the 12.

Of the 95 people currently on the death row, 55 have filed for a retrial, an increase of five from the previous round of executions in October.

Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, is believed to be among the 55. Asahara has been convicted of a number of crimes that include the 1995 sarin nerve gas attack against Tokyo’s subway system that killed 12 people and injured thousands.


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2008 October Hangings ( 2 pax )


JDPIC Note: The two hangings today, raising the total to 15 for the year, signifies the highest number of executions since 1975-- not the 1999 figure reported by the different wire services. Such a huge number in this day and age signifies either a sub-conscious or conscious anger with the nature of Japanese society. The recommendation for execution, coming from the elites in the Ministry of Justice, indicate a grave dissatisfaction with society, and do not bide well for the non-Japanese in this country. CNN even broadcasted the AP report below.


TOKYO, Japan (AP) -- Japan has executed two convicted murderers, bringing the number of hangings this year to 15.

The deaths Tuesday marked the continuation of a stepped-up pace of hangings in Japan in recent years amid rising concerns over crime and widespread public acceptance of capital punishment. Japan executed nine inmates in 2007.

Justice Minister Eisuke Mori said the two hanged on Tuesday were Michitoshi Kuma and Masahiro Takashio.

Kuma kidnapped two 7-year-old girls in February 1992 and strangled them. Takashio was convicted of stabbing two women to death in March 2004.

The hangings were the first since three inmates were executed in mid-September.

Japan has increased the pace of hangings in recent years. The executions are not announced beforehand and are carried out in secret.

The stepped-up pace of executions has brought strong protests from advocacy groups such as Amnesty International.

There are about 100 people on death row in Japan.


Japan executes 2 convicted murderers
Tuesday October 28, 2008


TOKYO, Japan (AP) -- Japan has executed two convicted murderers, bringing the number of hangings this year to 15.

The deaths Tuesday marked the continuation of a stepped-up pace of hangings in Japan in recent years amid rising concerns over crime and widespread public acceptance of capital punishment. Japan executed nine inmates in 2007.

Justice Minister Eisuke Mori said the two hanged on Tuesday were Michitoshi Kuma and Masahiro Takashio.

Kuma kidnapped two 7-year-old girls in February 1992 and strangled them. Takashio was convicted of stabbing two women to death in March 2004.

The hangings were the first since three inmates were executed in mid-September.

Japan has increased the pace of hangings in recent years. The executions are not announced beforehand and are carried out in secret.

The stepped-up pace of executions has brought strong protests from advocacy groups such as Amnesty International.

There are about 100 people on death row in Japan.

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2 inmates hanged:
number of executions most per year since 1999
Tuesday 28th October, 02:03 PM JST
TOKYO


Justice Minister Eisuke Mori announced Tuesday that two death-row inmates have been executed, marking the first executions under the government of Prime Minister Taro Aso formed in late September and breaking a record high for the number of people executed per year.

According to the Justice Ministry, the two are Michitoshi Kuma, 70, who was at the Fukuoka detention center, and Masahiro Takashio, 55, at the Sendai detention center. They were the first executions since Sept 11.

Kuma kidnapped two seven-year-old girls on their way to school in southern Japan in February 1992 and strangled them, dumping their bodies in the mountains.

Takashio was convicted of breaking into a house in northern Japan in March 2004 and stabbing a 55-year-old woman and her 83-year-old mother to death before stealing 50,000 yen, or about $500.

“Both crimes stemmed from cruel motives and took the precious lives of victims,” Mori told reporters. “The crimes caused grave sorrow to the families of the victims.”

Japan, which in the past has faced criticism for keeping prisoners on death row for decades before their executions, has increased the pace of hangings in recent years.

Executions are not announced beforehand and are carried out in secret.

The rise in executions has triggered strong protests from advocacy groups such as Amnesty International, though the anti-capital punishment lobby inside Japan is small.

There are about 100 people on death row in Japan.

Tuesday’s executions bring the annual total of people executed by the government to 15, the most since 1999 when the government started publishing the number of people executed. The government has been executing inmates at a pace of once around every two months since the period of former Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008

Two double-killers sent to gallows
First hangings ordered by new justice minister
bring toll to 15 for year

By MINORU MATSUTANI
Staff writer


Two convicted double-killers were hanged Tuesday, bringing the execution toll to an unusually high 15 for the year.

The executions were the first ordered by Justice Minister Eisuke Mori since he assumed the post Sept. 24 when Prime Minister Taro Aso formed his Cabinet.

Mori disclosed the names of the prisoners, a practice started by Kunio Hatoyama when he was justice minister.

Michitoshi Kuma, 70, was convicted of kidnapping and strangling two 7-year-old girls in Iizuka, Fukuoka Prefecture, in February 1992. He was hanged at the Fukuoka Detention Center.

His death sentence was finalized two years ago.

Throughout his trial and appeals, Kuma maintained his innocence, saying the evidence used against him was fabricated. His support group revealed that he had planned to request a retrial in the near future.

Masahiro Takashio, 55, was convicted of robbing and fatally stabbing a 55-year-old woman and her 83-year-old mother during a home invasion in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, in March 2004. Takashio knew the woman's father, who lived with the victims.

He was hanged at the Sendai Detention Center.

His death sentence was finalized 22 months ago.

There were nine hangings in 2007, while 2006 saw four. Mori's immediate predecessor, Okiharu Yasuoka, gave the go-ahead for three executions in October even though he held the office for only about a month.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

2008/10/29



A man convicted of murdering two schoolgirls and a robber who stabbed to death an elderly woman and her daughter were executed Tuesday, the first hangings since Justice Minister Eisuke Mori took office Sept. 24.

"I solemnly performed my duty, as required by law," Mori said at a news conference, referring to his signing of the execution papers. "I deliberated on the matter carefully and appropriately."

According to the Justice Ministry, Michitoshi Kuma, 70, was put to death at the Fukuoka Detention House and Masahiro Takashio, 55, was executed at the Sendai Detention House.

Kuma was accused of luring two female first-graders into his car on their way to school in Iizuka, Fukuoka Prefecture, in February 1992.

He strangled them and abandoned their bodies in the mountains in what is now Asakura, Fukuoka Prefecture.

In September 2006, the Supreme Court rejected his appeal.

Kuma had always maintained his innocence.

Takashio stabbed to death an 83-year-old woman and her 55-year-old daughter in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, and stole about 50,000 yen in cash in March 2004.

His death sentence was finalized after he withdrew his appeal in December 2006.(IHT/Asahi: October 29,2008)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


ANALYSIS / Executions proceeding at fast pace

Fumio Tanaka / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer


Tuesday's execution of two death row inmates brought the number of executions this year to 15, marking the fastest pace of executions since 1975, when 17 condemned prisoners were executed.

The interval between the previous execution and ones carried out Tuesday, the fifth set this year, was only about six weeks, marking a faster pace of executions compared with the interval of two months between executions during the term of Kunio Hatoyama--currently internal affairs and communications minister--who served as justice minister between September 2007 and August this year.

The period between the death sentence being finalized and it being carried out was about two years for Michitoshi Kuma, 70, and one year and 10 months for Masahiro Takashio, 55, who were executed Tuesday.

This is far shorter than the waiting period of eight years that was the average in the decade up to last year.

Twenty-six death row inmates have been ordered executed by justice ministers since 2006--10 by Jinen Nagase, 13 by Hatoyama and three by Okiharu Yasuoka, whose term of office lasted for slightly less than two months.

When the current justice minister, Eisuke Mori, assumed the post in late September, he said he would take over his predecessors' stance of not hesitating to sign an execution order. Mori did as he pledged when he signed orders to execute the two death row inmates Tuesday.

Conventionally, executions have been avoided while the Diet is in session to prevent Diet business being disrupted by questioning of the justice minister on the advisability of certain executions. But executions carried out during a Diet session ceased to be a rarity in recent years. The latest came during an extraordinary Diet session.

There was a view that it would be difficult to conduct an execution right before the dissolution of the House of Representatives for a snap general election, a senior Justice Ministry official said. But given uncertain prospects of when the lower house will be dissolved due to the global financial storm, the ministry is believed to have given priority to conducting executions steadily, observers said.
(Oct. 29, 2008)
National
go



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


2人の死刑を執行 森法相就任から約1カ月で初

2008
10281113


 法務省は28日、死刑囚2人に死刑を執行したと発表した。森英介法相が9月24日に就任してからほぼ1カ月で初めての執行となった。福田前首相が退陣を表明した直後の9月11日に保岡前法相が3人に執行して以来。これで確定死刑囚は101人となった。

 死刑は、約1年の在任期間中に13人に執行した鳩山元法相の当時から、約2カ月に一度の割合で執行されていた。今回は、それを上回るペースで行われたことになる。

 森法相は、執行を発表する会見で「法の求めに従って粛々と自らの職責を果たした。慎重かつ適正な検討を加えた。時期や間隔は一切、意識にない」と語った。就任時の記者会見では、死刑について、「粛々と実施することが妥当。鳩山元大臣の考えに共感する」と話していた。

 法務省によると、執行されたのは久間三千年(くま・みちとし)(70)、高塩正裕(55)の2死刑囚。久間死刑囚は福岡拘置所、高塩死刑囚は仙台拘置支所で執行された。

 久間死刑囚は、92年2月に福岡県飯塚市で登校中の小学1年の女児2人を車に誘い込み、首を絞めて殺害。遺体を同県甘木市(現・朝倉市)の山中に捨てた。殺人と死体遺棄などの罪に問われ、06年9月に最高裁が上告を棄却し、死刑が確定した。同死刑囚は、逮捕以来、一貫して無罪を主張していた。

 高塩死刑囚は04年3月、福島県いわき市で、女性(当時83)と、その娘(同55)の2人をナイフで刺して殺害し、現金約5万円を奪った。強盗殺人罪に問われ、06年12月に高塩死刑囚側が上告を取り下げて、死刑が確定していた。

 07年までの10年間で執行された死刑囚は刑が確定してから平均して8年間、拘置所に収容されてきたが、久間死刑囚は約2年、高塩死刑囚が約1年10カ月だった。

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

2008 September Hangings ( 2 pax )
3 death row inmates hung, 13 executed this year.

Thursday September 11, 2008 01:21 PM JST


Japan executed three death row inmates Thursday, bringing the number of inmates hanged this year to 13―the largest annual figure on record since the Justice Ministry began announcing the number of executions in 1999. The ministry said the three inmates hanged in the morning were murder-robbery convicts Yoshiyuki Mantani, 68, Mineteru Yamamoto, 68, and Isamu Hirano, 61.

Following the executions, the number of inmates on death row now stands at 102.

Thursday’s executions were the first since Justice Minister Okiharu Yasuoka assumed the post in a reshuffle of the Cabinet of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda in early August.

Yasuoka, who announced the executions at a news conference Thursday, dismissed criticism the execution under an outgoing administration of Prime Minister Fukuda is unusual. ‘‘The resignation of the cabinet is not related in any way with the execution,’’ Yasuoka said.

Yasuoka also said he had ordered the three inmates to be hanged after he confirmed no mistakes in the procedure.

‘‘Each of the three inmates took precious human lives based on their egoistic and outrageous motivations. They can expiate their crimes only at the expense of their own lives,’’ he said.

Yasuoka had ordered the execution of three inmates in November 2000―when he was previously justice minister in the Cabinet of then Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori.

Yasuoka’s predecessor Kunio Hatoyama had ordered the execution of 13 inmates while he was justice minister from August 2007 to August 2008.

Of the three inmates, Mantani and Yamamoto were executed at the Osaka Detention House while Hirano was hanged at the Tokyo Detention House.

Mantani waited for six years and eight months to be hanged after his conviction became final, Yamamoto two years and five months, and Hirano one year and 11 months, Justice Ministry officials said.

Mantani was convicted of stabbing to death a 19-year-old female junior college student to steal money from her at a subway station in Osaka in 1988, when he was on parole after another murder-robbery, and of assaulting two teenage women also in Osaka in 1987 to steal money from them.

According to court rulings, Yamamoto stabbed two people to death in Kobe in 2004 and stole about 50,000 yen in cash as well as watches.

Hirano was convicted of killing the operator of a ranch and his wife in Ichikai, Tochigi Prefecture, in 1994, stealing money and setting fire to their home.

Shortly after assuming the justice portfolio, Yasuoka told a news conference that Japan should keep capital punishment. ‘‘I think capital punishment needs to be maintained as it is supported by the people,’’ Yasuoka said at that time, citing an opinion poll that showed more than 80 percent of Japanese people support the death penalty.

Yasuoka, 69, a former judge and professional lawyer, is an 11th term member of the House of Representatives from the Liberal Democratic Party elected from a single-seat constituency in Kagoshima Prefecture.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
2008 June Hangings ( 3 pax )
Serial killer Miyazaki, two others hanged
'80s child slayings stunned Japan; executions under Hatoyama hit 13
By MINORU MATSUTANI



Serial killer Tsutomu Miyazaki, 45, who abducted, molested and strangled four young girls in Tokyo and Saitama Prefecture in 1988 and 1989, was hanged Tuesday along with two other inmates, Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama said.

Hatoyama has now signed 13 execution orders since taking his post in August, the highest by a single minister since executions resumed in 1993.

"In all three cases, the inmates committed cruel acts for very selfish reasons," Hatoyama told reporters. "I ordered the executions to protect the rule of law."

Miyazaki's lawyers sent Hatoyama a letter last month calling for a delay because they were preparing a plea to reopen the trial.

Hatoyama, however, said he made the decision to execute Miyazaki "with confidence." He said he considered the letter and other factors, and had "heard the lawyers were preparing, but have not filed, a formal application for a retrial."

One of Miyazaki's lawyers, Maiko Tagusari, sent a fax protesting the execution.

Miyazaki's case was a national sensation for the brutality of his crimes as well as the bizarre behavior he exhibited.

After kidnapping his victims, he strangled them and mutilated and burned some of their corpses. Some reports claimed he ate part of their flesh.

Miyazaki was apprehended in 1989 while attempting a fifth abduction.

Before his capture, he sent a box containing the bones of one of the girls to her house and a letter claiming responsibility signed by a "Yuko Imada."

In court, he made weird utterings, including: "A rat man appeared when a girl cried."

Police seized from his house scores of videotapes featuring small girls, reportedly some of his dead victims, who ranged in age from 4 to 7, and animated girl characters, prompting the media to describe him as an "otaku" (nerd) obsessed with "anime" (animation) characters.

After psychiatric tests ordered by the court yielded mixed results, the Tokyo District Court sentenced him to death in July 1997. The Tokyo High Court upheld the sentence in June 2001.

The Supreme Court dismissed an appeal in January 2006, finalizing the sentence.

The top court ruled that Miyazaki manifested an extreme personality disorder, but he was mentally competent when he committed the crimes and had no mental disorder that would exempt him from criminal liability.

In a letter to Kyodo News just before the Supreme Court ruling, Miyazaki maintained his innocence and said he thought he "did a good thing."

Throughout his trials, he offered no apology to the victims or their families.

The two others hanged Tuesday were Yoshio Yamasaki, 73, and Shinji Mutsuda, 37.

Yamasaki was convicted of murdering two people in a life insurance fraud in Kagawa Prefecture in 1985.

Mutsuda was convicted of killing two people to take over a sex service shop owned by one of the victims in Tokyo in 1995.

Yamasaki's hanging came three years and four months after his death sentence was finalized, while for Mutsuda it was after two years and eight months.

Miyazaki and Mutsuda were executed at the Tokyo Detention House, while Yamasaki was hanged at the Osaka Detention House.

The executions, the most since the 10 ordered by Hatoyama's predecessor Jinen Nagase, reduced Japan's death-row population to 102.

Information from Kyodo added

The Japan Times: Wednesday, June 18, 2008

(C) All rights reserved



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Serial child killer Tsutomu Miyazaki, 2 others executed

Tuesday 17th June, 11:14 AM JST
TOKYO


Tsutomu Miyazaki, the death row inmate convicted of tmurdering four young girls in 1988 and 1989 in Tokyo and Saitama Prefecture, was executed Tuesday, the Justice Ministry said.

Miyazaki, 45, was among the three death row inmates hanged the same day. With their execution, the number of inmates executed under the orders of Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama, who has been in the post since last August, came to 13. ‘‘After careful deliberation, we executed three inmates today,’’ Hatoyama said at a news conference. Miyazaki, detained at the Tokyo Detention House, was executed two years and four months after the Supreme Court finalized his death sentence in February 2006, which ended trials of him that had lasted 16 years. On Jan 17, 2006, the top court ruled that an extreme character disorder could be found in Miyazaki, but that he was completely mentally competent at the time of the crime, denying he had any mental disorder that would make him unable to bear criminal responsibility. The top court said Miyazaki abducted and killed the four girls in Tokyo and neighboring Saitama Prefecture ‘‘to satisfy his own sexual desire and appetite to own videotapes with footage of corpses.’’

He confessed to having killed four girls, aged between four and seven, in Tokyo and its suburbs and eating some of the remains of two of them.

Miyazaki mutilated the bodies of the victims, slept next to the corpses and drank their blood.

He sent letters to the media under a woman’s name claiming responsibility for the crimes and sent a box containing the remains of a slaughtered girl to her family. In a letter to Kyodo News just before the Supreme Court ruling, Miyazaki maintained his innocence and said he thought he ‘‘did a good thing.’’ During the nearly two-decade judicial process, Miyazaki never uttered a word of remorse to the victims and their families. He cryptically said that a “rat man“—a cartoonish image of which he drew—committed the crimes.

He also distanced himself from his family. When his father, unable to come to terms with what his son did, jumped into a river to his death in 1994, Miyazaki wrote to a publisher: “I feel refreshed.”

But court-appointed psychiatrists agreed with defense lawyers that Miyazaki was mentally ill. One finding was that Miyazaki suffered from a multiple personality disorder, while a second said he was schizophrenic.

Hirokazu Hasegawa, a clinical psychologist who saw Miyazaki in 2006, said the killer believed his crimes would resurrect his grandfather, who died three months before the grandson committed his first crime in 1988.

“What he told me lastly was ‘Please tell the world that I’m a gentle man,’ “ Hasegawa said at the time.

The two other executed inmates are Shinji Mutsuda, 37, and Yoshio Yamasaki, 73.

Mutsuda was convicted of killing the 32-year-old operator and the 33-year-old manager of a sex service business at a Tokyo apartment in 1995, stealing some 200,000 yen and drawing 40 million yen from the bank account of the operator in conspiracy with his twin brother. Yamasaki was convicted of killing a 49-year-old woman in Miyagi Prefecture in 1985 and a 48-year-old man in Kagawa Prefecture in 1990 in conspiracy with acquaintances of his.

Amnesty International Japan criticized the fast pace of executions under Hatoyama, saying in a statement, ‘‘The latest executions were carried out only two months after the previous ones. That indicates Japan is following a path of mass executions.’’ With 137 countries having legally or effectively terminated capital punishment, Japan is going against the international trend of abolishing the death penalty, the human rights group said. Following Tuesday’s executions, the number of inmates on death row now stands at 102. Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura suggested at a separate news conference that the acceleration of executions reflects the recent increase in death sentences and the number of death row inmates

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Serial killer Miyazaki put to death
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
2008/6/18

Tsutomu Miyazaki, the notorious serial killer who butchered four girls and sent a letter and remains to a victim's parents, was among three criminals executed on Tuesday, the Justice Ministry said.
Two of the convicted killers, including Miyazaki, 45, were hanged at the Tokyo Detention House, and one was put to death at the Osaka Detention House, the ministry said.

Miyazaki's death sentence was finalized in February 2006, after the Supreme Court upheld lower court decisions that ruled he was mentally competent to take responsibility for crimes committed in 1988 and 1989 in Tokyo and Saitama Prefecture.

"He had killed four girls to satisfy his sexual desire," the Supreme Court ruling said.

During his trial, Miyazaki repeatedly claimed that "a rat man" had appeared before he killed the girls. He also said he ate the wrists of one of the girls.

His victims ranged in age from 4 to 7.

Miyazaki was arrested in July 1989, when he was caught molesting a 6-year-old girl outdoors in Tokyo, about a month after he killed his fourth victim.

The letter and the remains sent to the family of one of the girls shocked the nation. The case gained even more attention after Miyazaki claimed responsibility for the killings in the media, using the female pseudonym "Yuko Imada."

Investigators found about 6,000 videotapes in Miyazaki's room, including pornography and slasher movies. Following the discovery, calls increased to restrict material that could be harmful to young people.

The three executions Tuesday bring to 13 the number of inmates put to death under Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama, who took office in August last year.

It is the highest figure under one justice minister's tenure since executions were resumed in Japan in 1993.

The previous record holder was Hatoyama's predecessor, Jinen Nagase, who approved 10 executions.

Hatoyama denied he was deliberately accelerating the pace of executions.

"We're conducting executions solemnly. As a result, the argument happened to be brought up that executions have been taking place every few months," Hatoyama told reporters Tuesday.

Under Hatoyama, three inmates were executed each in December and February, four in April, and now three in June.

According to the ministry, the other two inmates who were hanged Tuesday were Shinji Mutsuda, 37, in Tokyo, and Yoshio Yamasaki, 73, in Osaka.

Mutsuda was convicted of murdering two men--the manager and the owner of a Tokyo sex-related operation he worked for--with his twin brother in December 1995. The bodies were dumped into the sea.

Yamasaki collaborated with another man to strangle a 49-year-old female acquaintance in Sendai in November 1985. He made it appear that her death was a suicide and received about 7 million yen in life insurance.

In March 1990, Yamasaki conspired with another man and murdered a 48-year-old man in Kagawa Prefecture for insurance money.

For Miyazaki, the time between the finalization of his death sentence and the actual execution was two years and four months.

For Mutsuda, the waiting period was two years and eight months, and for Yamasaki, it was three years and four months.

For 10 years until 2007, the time between a finalized death sentence and the execution was about eight years. There are now 102 inmates on death row in Japan.(IHT/Asahi: June 18,2008)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Convicted murderer of 4 girls executed
Tsutomu Miyazaki



Tsutomu Miyazaki, convicted of murdering four girls aged 4 to 7 in Tokyo and Saitama Prefecture in the late 1980s, was executed on Tuesday along with two other death row inmates, Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama confirmed.

The executions brought to 13 the number of death row inmates to be hanged under Justice Minister Hatoyama who assumed the post in August 2007.

"These are indescribably cruel crimes in which the culprits took the precious lives of their victims. We signed their execution orders after carefully and cautiously considering them," Hatoyama told a press conference Tuesday. "We carry out executions to maintain justice and make sure that the country is ruled by the law."

Miyazaki, 45, was hanged at the Tokyo Detention Center two years and four months after his death sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court and 20 years after he committed the first murder.

The focal point during his court hearings was whether he was mentally stable enough to be held responsible for his crimes.

He repeated incomprehensible statements during his court hearings.

"I feel as if I committed the crimes in my dreams," he said in one of his hearings.

"I was scared because a 'rat person' appeared. My alter ego suddenly appeared and committed the acts," he said on another occasion.

The results of psychiatric evaluations conducted on him during the district court trial were divided.

One psychiatrist said he could be held fully responsible for the crimes, even though he suffered a personality disorder. Another concluded that his ability to be held responsible for his crimes was limited because he suffered a multiple personality disorder. The other deemed that his criminal responsibility was limited because he suffered from schizophrenia.

In dismissing his appeal against the death sentence in February 2006, the Supreme Court ruled that the main motives for his murders were based on his sexual desires and the desire to film his victims' corpses to make videos.

Miyazaki kidnapped a 4-year-old girl in Iruma, Saitama Prefecture, in August 1988, murdered her in a mountain forest in Akiruno, western Tokyo, and burned her body, according to the ruling.

He also abducted a 7-year-old girl in Hanno, Saitama Prefecture, in October 1988, and murdered her in Akiruno, the court found.

He was convicted of abducting another 4-year-old girl in Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture, in December of the same year, strangling her and abandoning her body in a forest.

He was also found guilty to abducting a 5-year-old girl in Koto-ku, Tokyo, in June the next year, murdering her and dumping her corpse. Moreover, he molested an elementary school girl in Hachioji, western Tokyo, in July of the same year, according to the ruling.

On Tuesday, Yoshio Yamasaki, 73, and Shinji Mutsuda, 37, were also executed at the Osaka Detention Center and the Tokyo Detention Center, respectively.

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2008 April Hangings ( 3 pax )

Four death row inmates hanged

(following are three different reports: Kyodo, Japan Times, and the Asahi's coverage of the April 10 executions)

Thursday 10th April, 01:54 PM JST

Kyodo News.


Four death row inmates were hanged Thursday, Justice Minister Yukio Hatoyama said, bringing the total number of inmates executed under his orders to 10 in three rounds of executions during a four-month period.

Among the four who were hanged were Kaoru Akinaga, 61, who changed his family name from Okashita, and Masahito Sakamoto, 41, both of whom were executed at the Tokyo Detention House. The other two were Masaharu Nakamura, 61, and Katsuyoshi Nakamoto, 64, both executed at the Osaka Detention House.

The 10 executions under Hatoyama mark the fastest pace of executions since the Justice Ministry resumed executions in 1993 after a pause of three years and four months.

The cumulative total of inmates executed reached 67 after Thursday’s executions, while the number of inmates on death row now stands at 104.

Thursday’s executions apparently showed the Justice Ministry’s determination to speed up the pace of executions in the wake of an increasing number of death row inmates in the country, despite international calls for a moratorium on executions.

‘‘I have to make a very painful announcement,’’ Hatoyama said at a press conference in which he reported the executions. ‘‘I carried out my duty as a justice minister without making a fuss, and I have not thought about the number (of executed inmates).’’

Human rights groups harshly condemned the executions, with Amnesty International Japan saying, ‘‘The abolition of the death penalty is now a global trend, with 135 countries legally or effectively terminating it, but Japan goes against the trend, and moreover, it has accelerated executions.’’

Makoto Miyazaki, chairman of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, issued a statement strongly urging the government to suspend executions so the public can debate its appropriateness.

Hatoyama once proposed omitting the current requirement for the justice minister to sign execution orders.

According to the finalized rulings, Akinaga killed two people in 1989. The Tokyo District Court sentenced him to life imprisonment, saying the murders were unplanned, but the Tokyo High Court imposed the death sentence, which was upheld by the Supreme Court.

Sakamoto was accused of killing a 16-year-old high school student in 2002 and demanding a ransom from her father. He was initially sentenced to life imprisonment, but then sentenced to death at the Tokyo High Court. He did not appeal the ruling.

Nakamura killed two people in 1989, while Nakamoto murdered a jewelry dealer and his wife in 1982.

© 2008 Kyodo News.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Japan Times

Hatoyama 'solemnly' reveals four more convicts hanged
Justice minister ties predecessor's tally with 10 executions since August

By JUN HONGO
Staff writer


Four death-row inmates were hanged Thursday, bringing to 10 the number of executions Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama has approved since he took office last August.

Hatoyama released the names and details of the inmates — in line with the new disclosure policy he earlier introduced — at a hastily arranged news conference.

"I must (issue) a very sad notice," he told reporters before revealing that Masato Sakamoto, 41, and Kaoru Akinaga, 61, went to the gallows at the Tokyo Detention House, while Katsuyoshi Nakamoto, 64, and Masaharu Nakamura, 61, were executed at the Osaka Detention House.

Hatoyama in December approved three hangings and three more in February.

His third round of executions cut the number of death-row inmates to 104, while putting him even with his predecessor, Jinen Nagase, who approved 10 executions during an 11-month stint in office.

Hatoyama explained that Thursday's hangings "brought down the number of death-row inmates to the level it was when I became justice minister," but later clarified that this figure does not play a role in his judgment when approving executions.

Repeating the term "solemnly" several times during the 15-minute news conference, Hatoyama stated that he is merely "taking care of duties as a justice minister" in signing the approvals.

The Justice Ministry said Sakamoto kidnapped a 16-year-old high school girl in July 2002 and strangled her after raping her in Seta, Gunma Prefecture. He demanded a ransom from the girl's family and got ¥230,000.

The Maebashi District Court handed him a life term on grounds that the murder was not premeditated, but the Tokyo High Court in October 2004 sentenced him to hang. Sakamoto, who already had a criminal record that included burglary and an assault on an 8-year-old girl, did not file an appeal with the Supreme Court.

Akinaga, who changed his name from Okashita while on death row, conspired with two acquaintances in July 1989 to defraud an 82-year-old landlord in Tokyo's Suginami Ward. He obtained ¥208 million by selling her property and later choked her to death. Akinaga then shot an accomplice in the head and decapitated him during a quarrel over the money.

The case unraveled five years after the murders when Akinaga was arrested for possession of illegal stimulants and questioned by police.

The Tokyo District Court handed him a life term but the Tokyo High Court later sentenced him to hang. The Supreme Court upheld this ruling in March 2005.

Nakamoto fatally stabbed a 70-year-old jewelry dealer and his wife in May 1982 while burglarizing the couple's home in Izumi, Osaka Prefecture. He stole ¥24,000 and fled but returned three days later to steal more jewelry.

The Supreme Court finalized his death sentence in January 1997. Nakamoto had maintained his innocence.

Nakamura was convicted for tricking an unidentified man in his 60s into taking sleeping pills in October 1989, causing the victim to suffer fatal brain damage. The killer sexually abused the man at a park in Takashima, Shiga Prefecture, before dismembering the corpse with kitchen knives and saws.

Nakamura cut up a 52-year-old man in a similar manner two months later and left the decapitated body inside a well in the same area.

His defense argued that Nakamura was schizophrenic and thus should not be held liable for his crimes, but the Supreme Court finalized his sentence in September 2004.

Although Hatoyama told the news conference that he approved the executions after "careful and thorough examination of each case," human rights groups and lawyers were quick to denounce the multiple hangings.

Pointing out that there have been four cases in which a death-row inmate was pronounced innocent in retrials, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations demanded the government halt executions until improvements are made in the justice system.

"The government should not rush into approving executions," but instead discuss the morality and propriety of capital punishment, the federation's president, Makoto Miyazaki, said in a statement.

The federation also criticized the Justice Ministry for its lack of concern over overseas demands on the question of capital punishment, noting that Thursday's hangings reveal the government's eagerness to continue ignoring an international trend to abolish executions.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hatoyama seals executions of 4 killers

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN


Four convicted murderers were executed Thursday, bringing to 10 the number of convicts hanged since Kunio Hatoyama became justice minister in August 2007.

"I will continue (to sign execution orders) in a calm and orderly manner," Hatoyama told a news conference.

There are now 104 inmates on death row.

Three inmates were executed in December and three others in February.

With the four executions Thursday, the pace of death sentences being carried out under Hatoyama is faster than the rate under his predecessor, Jinen Nagase.

Nagase signed execution orders for 10 inmates in three installments during his 11 months as justice minister. The 10 executions are a record under one justice minister since capital punishment was resumed in 1993 after a hiatus of three years and four months.

Hatoyama, an advocate of speeding up executions, sparked controversy in September by saying a justice minister's authorization should not be needed for carrying out an execution.

Three of the four men hanged Thursday were executed within four years of their death sentences being finalized.

During the 10 years through 2007, the average period between a finalized death sentence and the execution was about eight years.

According to Justice Ministry officials, the four murderers executed Thursday were: Katsuyoshi Nakamoto, 64; Masaharu Nakamura, 61; Masahito Sakamoto, 41; and Kaoru Okashita, 61.

Nakamoto and Nakamura were hanged at the Osaka Detention House, while Sakamoto and Okashita were put to death at the Tokyo Detention House.

Nakamoto was convicted of murdering a jewelry dealer and his wife in Izumi, Osaka Prefecture, and stealing cash and jewels in 1982.

Nakamura killed a homeless man and a former co-worker in Shiga Prefecture in 1989 for money and other purposes. He also dismembered their bodies and dumped their body parts.

Sakamoto forced a female high school student into his car and strangled her in Gunma Prefecture in 2002. He also phoned her parents demanding ransom money while pretending the girl was still alive.

Okashita strangled the owner of an apartment building in Tokyo's Suginami Ward in 1989 with an accomplice. Later, he shot the accomplice to death and pretended that his cohort was the one who had murdered the apartment building owner.(IHT/Asahi: April 11,2008)


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2008 April Hangings ( 3 pax )

JDPIC note: Two articles (Japan Times and Asahi Evening News) on the first hangings of year 2008). The Daily Yomiuri website made no mention of the event.



Three Executions Carried Out on February 1, 2008
The Japan Times
By JUN HONGO
Staff writer




Three condemned convicts were hanged Friday and the government released their names and other details in line with the disclosure policy introduced by Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama with his Dec. 7 approval of three other executions.

News photo
Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama faces reporters Friday in Tokyo to announce three executions. KYODO PHOTO

Takashi Mochida, 65, went to the gallows at the Tokyo Detention House, Keishi Nago, 37, was hanged in Fukuoka and Masahiko Matsubara, 63, was executed in Osaka.

Coming 55 days after the December hangings, the second round of executions authorized by Hatoyama reduced the number of death-row inmates to 104. Hatoyama has approved six executions since he took up his post last August, and at this rate will surpass his predecessor, Jinen Nagase, who approved 10 during his 11-month stint.

"My judgment will be based on a variety of elements, including considerations for retrials and official pardons — but not on timings or intervals (of executions) or the number of inmates on death row," Hatoyama told reporters Friday after approving the hangings.

According to information released by the Justice Ministry, Mochida was initially handed a seven-year prison term in 1989 for burglary and raping a 37-year-old woman in Tokyo. He returned to murder the victim in 1997 after serving his sentence, fatally stabbing her with a kitchen knife several times at a housing complex in Koto Ward.

The Tokyo District Court sentenced Mochida to life imprisonment, but the High Court overturned the sentence and condemned him. The Supreme Court upheld the ruling and his sentence was finalized in October 2004.

Nago was convicted of fatally stabbing his 40-year-old sister-in-law and his 17-year-old niece in August 2002 at their home in Isencho, Kagoshima Prefecture. His 13-year-old nephew sustained severe chest wounds and was hospitalized for 88 days.

The Kagoshima District Court sentenced Nago to death in 2004 and the sentence was finalized when he withdrew his high court appeal that year.

Matsubara was convicted of breaking into a home in Yamakawacho, Tokushima Prefecture in April 1988 and raping and murdering a 61-year-old housewife and stealing ¥28,000. He was also found guilty of raping and killing a 44-year-old housewife in Kariya, Aichi Prefecture, two months later, and stealing ¥99,500. Matsubara had been convicted three times for robbery prior to the killings.

The Supreme Court upheld the lower court rulings and finalized Matsubara's death sentence in April 1997.

He had sought a retrial, but the request was rejected last October.

The Justice Ministry ended its long-standing secrecy surrounding executions last December when it released for the first time the details of the inmates hanged at the time in an apparent effort to dispel criticism. Since 1998, only the number of executed inmates had been disclosed.

"Disclosure of such information is important to explain to the public that executions are being properly carried out," the Justice Ministry explained in releasing the details last December.

But Friday's hangings come during a growing international trend to abolish capital punishment.

Last December, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a nonbinding resolution against capital punishment, calling on U.N. member states to establish a moratorium on executions. Japan and the United States, which are the only major industrialized countries not to have abolished the death penalty, voted against the resolution.

Amnesty International Japan, previously the source for information about hanged inmates during the government's nondisclosure era, denounced Friday's executions in a statement, saying the practice "tramples on international opinion against death penalties.

"We fear that Japan is going against an international trend to abolish executions, which is spreading regardless of political, religious and cultural differences" in each country, the group said.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations also criticized the hangings, pointing out that there have been four cases in which a death-row inmate was cleared of his crimes and pronounced innocent in retrials.

"A fundamental improvement has not been made in the legal system, and there still lies a possibility of a wrongful capital punishment," Chairman Seigo Hirayama said in a statement, noting Friday's hangings demonstrate the government's eagerness to continue carrying out potentially unjust executions.

However, Justice Minister Hatoyama has supported capital punishment on grounds that it is a deterrent against crimes, and that there is wide public support for the death penalty in Japan.
The Japan Times: Saturday, Feb. 2, 2008
(C) All rights reserved

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JDPIC Note: Most editorials in Japanese newspapers are verbose, tepid and deathly dull. The following is a real departure from the norm:


Disturbing death penalty trend
Editorial

The Japan Times: Friday, April 25, 2008

In a retrial ordered by the Supreme Court, the Hiroshima High Court sentenced a 27-year-old man to death Tuesday for strangling and raping a 23-year-old woman, then strangling her 11-month-daughter in Hikari, Yamaguchi Prefecture, in 1999. The Juvenile Law prohibits sentencing to death anyone who was under the age of 18 at the time of the crime. The defendant was 18 years and one month old at the time he committed the two murders.

Tuesday's ruling suggests that the judiciary is departing from a 1983 Supreme Court guideline that regards the death sentence as something to be handed down only when doing so is deemed unavoidable in view of the gravity of the crime and from the standpoint of preventing further crime. It calls on courts to consider such factors as the nature and method of the crime, the motive for the crime, the number of victims, the age of the criminal, the sentiments of the victims' family members and the crime's social impact. Since the implementation of the 1983 guideline, no person under the age of 20 who has committed a double murder had been sentenced to death until Tuesday. The Hiroshima High Court ruling could pave the way for more death sentences to be imposed on 18- and 19-year-old minors.

In the two original trials of the Hikari case, life sentences were handed down primarily on the grounds that the defendant could be rehabilitated. The Supreme Court in June 2006, however, ordered a retrial, claiming that the reasons given for not sentencing the defendant to death were insufficient. It asked the high court to determine if there were special circumstances that justified a life sentence instead of a death sentence. In its ruling the high court sentenced the man to death after deciding that there were no extenuating circumstances and that the crime was coldblooded, cruel and inhuman.

Last year, 46 people were sentenced to death — a 20-year high. The increase in death sentences merits serious public discussion, particularly in light of the fact that the nation's murder rate has been declining at least since 2003, reaching a postwar low of 1,199 in 2007.
The Japan Times: Friday, April 25, 2008
(C) All rights reserved

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3 murderers executed amid protests

02/02/2008
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN


Three convicted murderers responsible for five deaths were hanged Friday, less than two months after the first executions were carried out under Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama.

The three convicts were Takashi Mochida, 65, Keishi Nago, 37, and Masahiko Matsubara, 63, according to the Justice Ministry.

They were executed in Tokyo, Fukuoka and Osaka, respectively, officials said.

Groups campaigning against capital punishment protested outside of the Tokyo Detention Center where Mochida was put to death.

He was sentenced to die for the 1997 murder of a woman, whom he had raped in 1989. He killed her because she reported the rape to police.

Nago fatally stabbed his sister-in-law and her daughter in 2002, while Matsubara killed two women in separate robberies in 1988.

Hatoyama has signed execution papers for six inmates since he took office in late August, a pace quicker than his predecessor's.

Amid international moves toward abolition of capital punishment, Hatoyama's predecessor, Jinen Nagase, approved 10 executions in three rounds in less than 11 months in office.

"Rather than consider an interval, I think it better to make it closer to what the Criminal Procedure Law calls for," Hatoyama told a news conference Friday.

Although the law provides for execution in less than six months after the sentence is finalized, it currently takes more than seven years on average to carry out the sentence.

In the first executions under Hatoyama in December, the ministry for the first time announced the three convicts' names and ages along with descriptions of their crimes.

"It is very important to have people understand that the perpetrator of a certain incident was executed for such flagrance," he said.

Hatoyama caused a stir earlier by saying there should be an "automatic" procedure for an execution to take place without requiring the justice minister to sign the papers.

A supra-partisan parliamentarians' group advocating the abolition of the death penalty lashed out at Friday's executions.

"On the pretext of information disclosure, the ministry has entered a mass execution era," a member said. "It was an 'automatic' execution."(IHT/Asahi: February 2,2008)


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2007 December Hangings ( 3 pax )

Press Coverage of the three Hangings: December 7, 2007

1 )Amnesty International
2) Kyodo News
3) Japan Times
4) Asahi News
Photos of Protest at the Osaka Detention Center ( See )

===============


AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE
http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGASA220162007
AI Index: ASA 22/016/2007 (Public) News Service No: 236 7 December 2007

Japan: Amnesty International condemns executions


Amnesty International strongly condemns and regrets the hanging of three men (FUKAWA Hiroki, FUJIMA Seiha, and IKEMOTO Noboru), in Japan today (7 December). These executions have taken place despite the UN General Assembly’s adoption of a resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions on 15 November.

This action runs counter to the universal protection of human rights and comes at a time when there is a clear international trend away from the use of the death penalty. On 15 November, the Third Committee of 62
nd session of UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the resolution on global moratorium on executions with 99 countries voting in favour of the resolution. The resolution will now come before the plenary of the UNGA for final adoption in mid-December.

Executions in Japan are typically held in secret. Prisoners are only informed hours before their executions and carried out without prior notice to the prisoners or their family.

These executions are the first under the present Minister of Justice HATOYAMA Kunio, who announced publicly in September that he was considering scrapping the rule under the Criminal Procedure Code requiring the signature of the Minister of Justice for executions. As of 7 December 2007, there are at least 107 prisoners on death row; 23 cases carrying the death sentence were confirmed by the courts in 2007, which marks the highest number since 1962.
Very few countries currently carry out executions: in 2006, only 25 countries carried out executions. Among major industrialized countries, Japan now is conspicuously the only country which has a fully operational death penalty system: the US Supreme Court has blocked all planned executions in the country until it makes a ruling on conducting executions by lethal injections.
Amnesty International calls on Japanese government to cease executions and adopt an immediate moratorium on executions in accordance with the UN resolution.
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Three inmates hanged, names disclosed for 1st time; Amnesty protests
Kyodo
Friday, December 7, 2007 at 14:33 EST

TOKYO — Three death row inmates were executed Friday, the Justice Ministry announced, disclosing the names of the hanged inmates and where they were put to death for the first time. Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama told the judicial affairs committee of the House of Representatives that he determined to disclose the names of the inmates, their criminal acts and where they were executed "as it is necessary to gain the understanding of the bereaved families of the victims and the public over the appropriateness of executions."
Japan previously only announced the number of executed inmates without disclosing their names. Such secrecy surrounding executions drew criticism at home as well as abroad.
The three executed inmates are Seiha Fujima, 47, and Hiroki Fukawa, 42, who were hanged at the Tokyo Detention House, and Noboru Ikemoto, 74, who was executed at the Osaka Detention House, according to the Justice Ministry.
The hangings are the first approved by Hatoyama, who controversially remarked after taking office in August that executions should be carried out systematically without requiring an order by the justice minister.
The latest executions brought the number of executed inmates this year to nine, the highest since 1976. At present, the number of inmates whose death sentences were finalized stands at 104.

The previous executions were carried out in August against three inmates under the instruction of Hatoyama's predecessor, Jinen Nagase, who issued execution orders for 10 inmates during his one-year term.

Fujima was accused of killing five people between 1981 and 1982, while Fukawa murdered two in 1999. Ikemoto was accused of fatally shooting three people in 1985.

Ikemoto was initially sentenced to life imprisonment at the Tokushima District Court, but the decision was overturned at the Takamatsu High Court, whose ruling was upheld by the Supreme Court.

Amnesty International Japan issued a statement to condemn the executions, saying, "While the names of the executed inmates were disclosed, the hangings were implemented suddenly, as usual, without notifying the inmates, their families or anyone else."

Mounting a protest against the fact that nine inmates have been killed this year, more than in the previous year, the international human rights group said, "Japan has gone against the global trend to abolish the death penalty...Only Japan and the United States maintain capital punishment among the Group of Eight nations at present, and in the United States, the numbers of executions and death sentences have gradually been declining."

"Amnesty expects Japan to take a step toward terminating the death penalty, the ultimate human rights violation, in the near future," it said.

On Japan's capital punishment system, the U.N. Committee against Torture has requested Tokyo to immediately introduce a moratorium on executions, indicating the psychological strain imposed on death-row inmates and their families by the constant uncertainty about the date of execution could amount to torture or ill-treatment. (Kyodo News)

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Three hanged and named in ministry first
Disclosures end secrecy policy on executions

Japan Times
Saturday, Dec. 8, 2007



By JUN HONGO
Staff writer

The Justice Ministry executed three death-row inmates Friday and, in a break with its secrecy policy, released their names and details directly to the public.

Seiha Fujima, 47, Hiroki Fukawa, 42, and Noboru Ikemoto, 74, were hanged early Friday, the ministry said. Fujima and Fukawa were executed at the Tokyo Detention House and Ikemoto at the Osaka Detention House.

The first executions authorized by Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama reduced the number of inmates on death row to 104. His predecessor, Jinen Nagase, approved 10 executions during an 11-month stint, including last Christmas Day.

The government's secrecy policy on executions has been widely criticized. Since 1998, the ministry has limited disclosure on executions to just the number hanged on grounds that anything else might cause "emotional unsteadiness" in other inmates, and be criticized as insensitive toward convicts' kin. Before that, the ministry didn't disclose any information on executions.

But in an apparent effort to dispel the criticism, the ministry Friday disclosed the inmates' names, the crimes they were convicted of and the locations where they were hanged.

"Disclosure of such information is important to explain to the public that executions are being properly carried out," a Justice Ministry statement said.

Later in the day, Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura said he hopes the disclosures continue.

But death penalty opponents argued Friday's information disclosure is far from sufficient to ensure transparency.

Koichi Kikuta, a professor emeritus at Meiji University and noted death penalty opponent, slammed the government announcement, saying releasing only the names, crimes and the location of the executions would only strengthen the public image of the convicts as "vicious."

At a news conference jointly organized by lawmakers opposing capital punishment, Kikuta demanded the government also make public the physical and mental state of the death-row inmates, as well as the rationale for the timing of executions.

Fujima was convicted of murdering a 16-year-old girl, her younger sister and their mother at their house in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, in May 1982. After stalking the girl for more than six months, he stabbed the three with a kitchen knife and a pocket knife after the girl spurned him.

Fujima was also found guilty of killing an accomplice in the crime and an acquaintance from a burglary. Fujima's lawyers argued that he was insane and thus should not have been held liable for the killings, but his sentence was finalized by the Supreme Court in June 2004.

Fukawa was arrested in May 1999 and convicted of fatally stabbing a 65-year-old colleague from a newspaper delivery company and her 91-year-old mother, after the colleague refused to lend him ¥2 million. His death sentence was finalized in January 2003 after he withdrew his Supreme Court appeal.

Ikemoto fatally shotgunned a distant 46-year-old relative and his spouse at the relative's house in June 1985 after having a heated debate with the couple over litter on his property. Ikemoto then went outside and shot a 71-year-old neighbor to death and wounded a bystander.

His appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court in March 1996.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations denounced Friday's hangings in a statement released by Chairman Seigo Hirayama.

"There is always the danger of a wrongful execution," Hirayama said, calling for a moratorium on executions until the capital punishment system is reformed on the basis of open public debate.

The federation also demanded that the government ease restrictions on visits to and communication with death-row inmates. Such contact is restricted to family members and lawyers, and to an extremely limited number of occasions.

Hirayama also implied that the hangings reflect Japan's reluctance to follow an international trend toward abolishing capital punishment. Japan and the United States are the only major industrialized countries that still uphold capital punishment.

Calling executions an "ultimate violation of human rights," Amnesty International Japan also denounced Japan's practice of hanging inmates without giving them any prior notification.

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Ministry names executed convicts for first time
12/08/2007
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

In a policy shift on capital punishment by the normally secretive Justice Ministry, officials announced the names of three death-row convicts executed Friday for the murders of 10 people.

In the past, the ministry did not even acknowledge that executions had taken place. It was only from November 1998 that the ministry began announcing that prisoners had been put to death. But that was the only information given.
Ministry officials said the announcement Friday was intended to respond to requests from the public for greater information disclosure.
Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama is said to have made the decision to disclose the names because such information would show the public that death sentences were being carried out appropriately, officials said.

However, Hatoyama had earlier raised questions about the death sentence, including the possibility of carrying out executions automatically without the approval of the justice minister.

Ritsuo Hosokawa of opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) asked Hatoyama about his views of the death sentence at the Lower House Judicial Affairs Committee on Friday.
"It is painful (to sign execution orders) but I understand that it must be undertaken in an orderly manner based on law," Hatoyama said. "I signed knowing that it is a responsibility I cannot escape."

When Hosokawa heard Hatoyama's admission that executions had taken place, he said he could no longer continue with the questioning because he was too shocked.

It is extremely unusual for a justice minister to admit in the Diet that an execution has taken place. Those executed on Friday were Seiha Fujima, 47; Hiroki Fukawa, 42; and Noboru Ikemoto, 74.

Fujima and Fukawa were hanged at the Tokyo Detention House, while Ikemoto was executed at the Osaka Detention House. The ministry also released details of the crimes committed by the convicts.

According to the ministry and court verdicts, Fujima went on a killing spree in 1981 and 1982, fatally stabbing five people, including a family of three in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture.
Fukawa asked for a loan from a 65-year-old woman in Tokyo's Edogawa Ward in 1999 so that he could go on a date. When the woman refused, Fukawa stabbed her and her mother to death.

In 1985, Ikemoto fatally shot three neighbors and injured another with a shotgun in Tokushima Prefecture. He said he thought that they were harassing him by dumping their garbage in his garden.

The three executions bring to nine the number of those hanged this year, the highest annual number since 1977. The Justice Ministry did not disclose execution information in the past out of consideration for bereaved family members of the executed as well as others on death row.

That veil of secrecy meant that groups opposed to the death sentence and media organizations had to make educated guesses about which convicts had been executed.

Ministry officials said they decided to go ahead with disclosure rather than continue to be criticized for being secretive, especially since a majority of the public supports capital punishment.

Hatoyama also said he informed Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on Friday morning of the plan to disclose the names of the executed prisoners.

Fukuda was quoted as saying he endorsed the move because the feelings of bereaved relatives of the victims should be taken into account.

Amnesty International Japan said in a statement Friday that while the disclosure of the names of the three inmates broke through the secrecy of Japan's execution system, the group objected to the fact that nine inmates have been hanged so far this year.(IHT/Asahi: December 8,2007)


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2007 August Hangings ( 3 pax )

3 death row inmates executed
August 23, 2007
(Mainichi)


Three death row inmates were executed at Tokyo and Nagoya detention centers on Thursday, Justice Ministry officials said.

Sources close to the case identified the three as Hifumi Takezawa, 69, and Yoshio Iwamoto, 63, who had been detained at the Tokyo Detention Center, and Kozo Segawa, 60, at the Nagoya Detention Center.

The executions bring the total number of convicts who have been hanged since Justice Minister Jinen Nagase assumed the post in September last year to 10. Death row convicts are executed on orders of the justice minister.

Thursday's executions reduced the number of death row inmates in Japan to 103.

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Japan hangs 3 inmates for murders
By CHISAKI WATANABE Associated Press Writer

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan executed three inmates, an official said Thursday, prompting condemnation from human rights activists.
The three were hanged Thursday, according to a justice ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity citing policy. He refused to disclose the names of the executed.
Kyodo News agency identified the three as Hifumi Takezawa, 69, Yoshio Iwamoto, 63, and Kozo Segawa, 60. The three had been convicted of multiple murders, and Iwamoto and Segawa were also convicted of robberies, according to Amnesty International Japan.
Japan is one of the few industrialized nations that retains the death penalty. The government is routinely criticized by human rights activists for the extreme secrecy surrounding the executions, which are conducted by hanging.
"We strongly condemn the executions," Amnesty International Japan said in a statement. "We hope Japan will ... take a step in the near future toward abolishing the death penalty, which is an extreme form of human violation."
Four men were executed on Christmas Day under Justice Minister Jinen Nagase. In April, three more were executed.
Thursday's executions bring the number under Nagase to 10 - the highest since 1993, when executions resumed after a moratorium of more than three years, according to Amnesty International Japan.
Executions are often carried out when parliament is not in session or on Fridays. Critics say that is meant to avoid fueling public debates on the death penalty, which has been abolished in many developed countries except for Japan and the United States.
Thursday's executions came as parliament was in recess. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to reshuffle his Cabinet next week.
It is believed that 104 inmates are currently on death row in Japan.

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2007 April Hangings ( 3 pax )

3 death row inmates hanged in Tokyo, Fukuoka, Osaka

Friday, April 27, 2007 at 16:42 EDT TOKYO — Japan hanged three death row inmates Friday, the Justice Ministry said, in a rare move while parliament is in session. The executions, which came amid general calls for tougher punishment by crime victims but drew criticism by human rights activists, were the second set of multiple executions under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe following the hanging of four people in December.
The government usually refrains from executing people while parliament is sitting due to concern the action could affect deliberations on bills there.
The ministry did not disclose the names of those executed in accordance with normal practice. But judicial sources said the three were Yoshikatsu Oda, 59, who was hanged at the Fukuoka Detention House for the murders of two people, Masahiro Tanaka, 42, who was hanged at the Tokyo Detention House for the murders of four people, and Kosaku Nada, 56, executed at the Osaka Detention House for the murders of two people.
The executions, like those in December, were carried out on the orders of Justice Minister Jinen Nagase.
Nagase's predecessor, Seiken Sugiura, did not give the green light to any executions, citing his religious beliefs, during his 11 months in office through September last year, when Abe took office.

According to the ministry, the number of people under sentence of death who had exhausted all avenues of appeal or had not appealed topped 100 in March. With Friday's executions, the number dropped to 99.
There were no executions in Japan for three years and four months until March 1993, mainly due to the reluctance of justice ministers to issue execution orders. Since the resumption of hanging, 54 prisoners have been executed, including Friday's three.
Human rights group Amnesty International Japan on Friday lodged "a strong condemnation" of the government's executing the three inmates only four months after the previous hangings.
The Fukuoka District Court sentenced Oda to death in March 2000 for the murders of two people for insurance money in 1990 in Fukuoka Prefecture. The sentence was finalized because he retracted his appeal.
The Supreme Court in September 2000 dismissed Tanaka's appeal against the death sentence for the murders of four people for robbery or other reasons from 1984 to 1991 in Kagawa, Tokushima, Tokyo and Kanagawa prefectures, as well as other crimes.
The top court rejected Nada's appeal in September 1992 against the death sentence for the murders of two people for robbery in January 1983 in Hyogo Prefecture. (Kyodo News)

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