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Japan Executions - 2012
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    Japan Executions - 2012

    Japan on Thursday resumed its use of capital punishment after a 20-month break, with an unapologetic government minister signing death warrants for three multiple murderers.

    The convicts went to the gallows on the orders of the justice minister, who said he was performing his job and acting in line with public opinion, which overwhelmingly supports the death penalty.

    "Today, three executions were carried out," Toshio Ogawa said of the hangings, the first in Japan since July 2010. "I have carried out my duty as a justice minister as stipulated by law."

    Apart from the United States, Japan is the only major industrialized democracy to carry out capital punishment, a practice that has led to repeated protests from European governments and human rights groups.

    Amnesty International condemned the executions and said it would write to Ogawa and Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to protest.

    The Japan Federation of Bar Associations also protested, reiterating its calls to abolish the death penalty, saying it goes against global trends.

    Japan did not execute anybody in 2011, the first year in nearly two decades the country had not carried out a single death sentence amid a muted debate on the rights and wrongs of the policy.

    International advocacy groups have denounced the Japanese system, under which death row inmates can wait for their executions for many years in solitary confinement and are only told of their impending death a few hours ahead of time.

    The wait can become decades, with Japan's wheels of justice turning slowly.

    Ogawa was unrepentant for his order, citing the legal requirement for execution and demand from the public, who in polls have shown 85 per cent support for capital punishment.

    "Punishments for crimes are decided by the public," he said, referring to Japan's long-standing policy of using capital punishment.

    The three inmates put to death on Thursday were all multiple murderers, whose violence in low-crime Japan shocked the public.

    Yasuaki Uwabe, 48, drove a car into a train station in Kyushu in a planned random killing, hitting several people before running onto the platform with an 18-centimetre (seven-inch) knife. He killed five people and injured 10.

    Tomoyuki Furusawa, 46, whose wife was hiding at her parents' home in Yokohama to escape his abuse as she filed for divorce, killed her elderly parents and her 12-year-old son in 2002 before abducting and assaulting her.

    Yasutoshi Matsuda, 44, killed two women in southern Miyazaki prefecture in 2001.

    The most recent executions in Japan before Thursday were in July 2010 when then justice minister Keiko Chiba approved the hanging of two inmates, despite her long-standing opposition to the death penalty.

    In an unusual move, Chiba attended the executions and later allowed the media to visit the execution chamber at the Tokyo Detention House in a move to increase public debate over the death penalty.

    Under Chiba, the justice ministry began looking into whether capital punishment should continue. But the review ended inconclusively this year under Ogawa.

    Ogawa said following the executions that 132 people remained on death row.

    Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/Japan+ex...#ixzz1qUj2jXkr
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    2 inmates hanged in first executions since March



    A man who raped and killed a student by setting her on fire was hanged at the Tokyo Detention House, one of two inmates executed Aug. 3 as new Justice Minister Makoto Taki made good on a pledge to approve death sentences.

    Junya Hattori, 40, abducted a 19-year-old female college student in Mishima, Shizuoka Prefecture, in 2002, according to the verdict that finalized his death sentence. After raping her, he doused her in kerosene and set her on fire.

    He was given a life sentence by the district court that initially convicted him, but on appeal by prosecutors the Tokyo High Court handed down a death sentence, which was finalized in 2008.

    Kyozo Matsumura, 31, was hanged the same day at the Osaka Detention House.

    Matsumura killed his aunt in Nagaokakyo, Kyoto Prefecture, by striking her with a blunt instrument and stabbing her. He stole about 20,000 yen ($250) from her wallet and then bludgeoned his great-uncle at his home in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, stealing about 3,000 yen.

    The Kyoto District Court handed down the death sentence, which was finalized after an appeal was retracted.

    Japan has 130 inmates on death row, but only seven hangings have been carried out under Democratic Party of Japan justice ministers since the party took control of government in September 2009. There were no executions in 2011, the first lull since 1992.

    Before wresting power, the DPJ called for a national debate on whether the death penalty was appropriate punishment for murderers.

    The first DPJ justice minister, Keiko Chiba, was an opponent of the death sentence but did approve two hangings during her one-year tenure.

    She tried to encourage debate on the death penalty by personally witnessing a hanging and allowing reporters to view an execution chamber.

    A revolving door of justice ministers then led to a period of about 20 months when no hangings were carried out. Toshio Ogawa, who took over as justice minister in January 2012 was the last to approve a hanging on March 29. Three inmates were executed under his tenure.

    Taki, who approved the two latest executions, said after assuming the post in June that he would not hesitate to approve hangings.

    He told a news conference: "With a system in place and after the courts have issued the verdict, it would be impossible to make decisions that totally disregard such factors."

    http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_...AJ201208030088
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    Japan hangs cult leader responsible for 6 murders


    Japan executed two people Thursday, including a 65-year old female cult leader convicted of six murders that took place during supposed exorcisms.

    The Justice Ministry said 65-year-old Sachiko Eto and 39-year-old Yukinori Matsuda were executed by hanging. Matsuda was convicted of killing two people during a robbery in 2003.

    Eto turned to faith healing after she and her husband joined a cult, according to Japanese media reports. She and two accomplices, including her daughter, were convicted of beating their victims to drive out "demons" and then hiding their bodies at her home.

    During her trial, Eto's lawyers argued she had diminished responsibility as she was suffering mental problems at the time of the crimes. She pled not guilty, but a Japanese court upheld her sentence, ruling that her crimes were "excessively grave."

    Eto's daughter and another cult member were sentenced to life in prison for the 1995 murders.

    Japan is one of the few industrialized countries that have capital punishment. The lack of transparency in the system has been criticized by human rights groups, but capital punishment is generally supported by the public, according to opinion polls.

    Japan had no executions in 2011 but has conducted seven this year. The Justice Ministry says 131 convicts are on Japan's death row.

    http://www.courier-journal.com/usato...ll|text|Home|s
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