Japan executed a death-row prisoner for the murders of two women today, the justice ministry said, a further snub to calls from international rights groups to end capital punishment. The execution by hanging was the 17th since conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to power in late 2012. Justice Minister Katsutoshi Kaneda, who authorised the latest execution, said he approved it after carefully considering the violent nature of the crimes.
“These are extremely brutal cases that caused unspeakable sorrow to the families of the victims,” Kaneda told a news briefing. “I decided to order the execution after careful deliberations.” Executed Kenichi Tajiri, 45, was convicted of killing a 49-year-old woman in 2004 and a 65-year-old woman in 2011 in robbery-homicides.
In the 2004 case, Tajiri battered the victim’s head and face with a wrench to kill her to steal cash, while in the latter case he stabbed his victim to death and took her money. Japan and the US are the only major developed countries that still carry out capital punishment. The death penalty has overwhelming public support in Japan, despite repeated protests from European governments and human rights groups.
Opponents say Japan’s system is cruel because 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.