Japan has carried out the first executions since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has begun his mandate. Three death-row inmates were hanged in the early hours of Thursday, the Justice Ministry has said.
“I ordered the executions after giving careful consideration to the matter,” Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki said in a press briefing.
“These were extremely cruel cases in which victims were deprived of their precious lives for very selfish reasons.”
One of the three inmates, Kaoru Kobayashi, aged 44, was convicted of killing a 7-year-old girl. Keiki Muto, 62, killed a bar owner for money in 2002, while Masahiro Kanagawa, 29, killed a man and injured seven other people outside a Tokyo shopping mall in 2008.
Japan is one of the few advanced countries that still apply the death penalty, with critics pointing out, among other things, that the death-row inmates are held sometimes for decades and are not warned in advance of when they will be executed. Official statistics, however, say that in Japan support for the death penalty is over 80 percent.
These are the first executions since September 2012. Currently, about 130 inmates are on the death row.