2011 is the first in the last 19 years when Japan would not carry out any death penalty execution, despite the fact that the number of convicts on the death-row has reached the highest since World War II.
There has been at least one execution every year since 1993, when Masaharu Gotoda, then justice minister, approved the first one after more than three years.
The Democratic Party of Japan proved to be cautious toward executions, with several justice ministers avoiding to order any.
The number of convicts awaiting execution increased from 18 at the end of last year to 129, a record since the World War II, according to the justice ministry.
Since the law stipulates that no executions are to be carried out from December 29 through January 3, it was confirmed that there would be none during year 2011.
Japan, one of the few developed nations which still applies the death penalty is being urged by human rights groups to suspend or abolish the practice.
Human rights activists have accused Japan that most executions are done with high secrecy – prisoners are notified in the morning of the execution, while families usually find out only after it was carried out.