Japan: Executes First Prisoners Since 2019

By Douglas F. Roberts, The Chicago Times

December 22, 2021

TOKYO – On the orders of Justice Minister Yoshihisa Furukawa, three death row prisoners were hanged Tuesday in Japan’s first executions since Dec 2019.

Yasutaka Fujishiro, 65, killed seven relatives in 2004 was convicted of killing seven of his relatives in 2004.  Tomoaki Takanezawa, 54, and Mitsunori Onogawa, 44, were convicted in 2003 of killing two innocent employees at separate pachinko parlors

Furukawa gave orders to resume executions after careful consideration.  In 2018, Japan executed 15 death row inmates, included 13 from the Aum Shinrikyo cult that was responsible for the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway.

Fujushiro was sentenced to death in May 2009 and the Supreme Court finalized the decision in 2015, while Takanezwa’s sentence was finalized in July 2005 and Onogawa’s was settled in June 2009.

In opposition to the death penalty, Amnesty International’s Chiara Sangiorgio, condemned the executions as a “damning indictment of this government’s lack of respect for the right to life.  After two years without executions, this feels like a missed opportunity for Japan to take long overdue steps to abolish the cruel practice of the death penalty.”

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara said in a statement that it would not be “appropriate” at this time to abolish the death penalty policy since ”. . . the current situation in which heinous crimes continue to occur.  Many Japanese think the death penalty is unavoidable in the case of extremely malicious crimes.”