Japan hanged three men in the country’s first executions in two years, amid criticism of its use of the death penalty, the Guardian reports. The Kyodo news agency said the justice ministry identified the men as Yasutaka Fujishiro, 65, who murdered seven of his relatives in 2004, and Tomoaki Takanezawa, 54, and Mitsunori Onogawa, 44, who were convicted of killing two employees of a pachinko parlour in 2003. Tuesday’s executions were the first under the new prime minister, Fumio Kishida. Japan hanged three death row inmates in December 2019, and 15 a year earlier, including 13 members of the doomsday cult that carried out a deadly sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995.
As one of only a small number of developed countries that still uses the death penalty, Japan has resisted calls for abolition from the European Union, human rights groups and thousands of Japanese lawyers and legal professionals. “Given that atrocious crimes keep occurring one after another, it is necessary to execute those whose guilt is extremely grave, so it is inappropriate to abolish capital punishment,” said deputy chief cabinet secretary Seiji Kihara. Last month, two death row inmates in Japan launched a legal action against the government, claiming that the practice of not informing inmates of their execution until only hours before they are hanged was “inhumane.” The prisoners have demanded an end to the practice and $22million in compensation.