3 Japanese drug smugglers executed in China

9th April 2010


China on Friday executed three Japanese men convicted of drug smuggling, three days after it executed the first Japanese national since the two countries normalized diplomatic relations in 1972.

Teruo Takeda, 67, and Hironori Ukai, 48, were put to death in Dalian, Liaoning Province, and Katsuo Mori, 67, in Shenyang, also in the northeastern province, at 9 a.m., according to Japanese diplomats.

As was the case of Mitsunobu Akano, a 65-year-old man from Osaka Prefecture, the three men are believed to have been executed by lethal injection because Liaoning Province abolished execution by shooting last December.

‘‘All individuals, regardless of nationality, were treated equally in the application of Chinese law, and China’s retention of the death penalty for drugs crimes helped deter and prevent such crimes,’’ China’s official Xinhua News Agency quoted the Supreme People’s Court as saying in a statement.

Japan conveyed its concern to China about Friday’s execution, but Tokyo is unlikely to lodge a formal protest with Beijing as every country has the sovereign right to determine which crimes warrant the death penalty, Japanese officials said in Tokyo.

‘‘The Japanese public’s sentiment is that it is too severe to impose the death penalty on drug criminals,’’ a senior Foreign Ministry official said. ‘‘We cannot help but say we regret the result…But it is difficult to lodge a protest.’‘

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu on Tuesday expressed hope that Akano’s execution and the then planned executions of the three others would not affect development of Japan-China relations.

Drug smuggling is treated as a serious crime in China. The country’s penal code says offenders face sentences of 15 years’ imprisonment, life imprisonment or death for smuggling stimulant drugs weighing 50 grams or more.

Takeda, from Nagoya, was convicted of buying about 5 kilograms of stimulant drugs from a Chinese person in June 2003 and passing them on to five people the following month.

Ukai, from Gifu Prefecture, was found in possession of about 1.5 kg of illegal drugs when trying to board a plane from Dalian to Osaka, in July 2003.

Mori, from Fukushima Prefecture, was convicted of attempting to smuggle 1.25 kg of drugs from Shenyang airport to Japan.

The death sentences of the three men were finalized in 2007.

As of January 2009, at least 28 Japanese nationals were detained in China over drug-related incidents, according to Japanese government data.

As of Friday, nine Japanese—excluding the three executed—were detained in the three northeastern provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang.

Many of the stimulant drugs circulating in the provinces are believed to have been made in North Korea.

Meanwhile, Japanese investigative sources said Friday that Takeda had been on a wanted list in connection with a 2002 robbery in Fukuoka Prefecture, in which 13 million yen in cash and jewelry were stolen from a city assembly member’s home.


Japanese man faces execution in China
The Japan Times: Wednesday, March 31, 2010

BEIJING (Kyodo) Beijing has notified Tokyo of the imminent execution of a Japanese man sentenced to death for smuggling drugs, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qing Gang said Tuesday.

It will be China's first execution of a Japanese national since the two nations normalized diplomatic relations in 1972.

The move prompted Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano to say the administration will convey its "concern" over the case to Beijing.

"The issue is a matter of justice in China," Hirano said. "But when it comes to a death sentence, I understand there is certainly public sentiment (against it) and the government will express and convey its concern (to China)."

Chinese authorities identified the man only by his kanji, which can be pronounced as Mitsunobu Akano.

The execution may dampen bilateral relations, which had been moving in a positive direction. China announced last week it had detained a man for allegedly poisoning frozen dumplings that sickened 10 people in Japan between late 2007 and early 2008.

According to sources close to both sides, Beijing conveyed its decision to Tokyo three days after informing the Japanese government that a suspect had been apprehended in the dumpling-poisoning case. "The timing makes it difficult for Japan to object," one of the sources said Tuesday.

China executed a British man in late December convicted of smuggling drugs into the country, drawing strong criticism from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and human rights groups.

Beijing has traditionally been careful about executing foreigners — especially those from developed countries — but critics say that given its rising global clout and its hardline stance against crime, the government may have decided to apply its capital punishment guidelines equally to both foreigners and Chinese.

Last July, Japan executed a Chinese national convicted of killing three of his compatriots in Kawasaki in 1999.

The Japanese man was arrested in September 2006 for attempting to smuggle about 2.5 kg of stimulants from Dalian airport to Japan, according to closely placed sources with information on bilateral matters.

A high court in Liaoning Province finalized the man's death sentence in 2009 by dismissing his appeal of the lower court ruling issued in June 2008.

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