Two more inmates from Japan’s death row were hanged Thursday morning, according to Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki. Already a total of eight inmates have been executed since the start of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration last December and 129 more inmates are still lined up on death row with executions to be conducted every few months.
Executed were 55-year old Mitsuo Fujishima and 63-year old Ryoji Kagayama. Fujishima received the death penalty for two murders in the prefectures of Yamanashi and Niigata. In March of 1986, he drowned his former wife’s 73-year old aunt for trying to keep him from seeing his former wife and also drowned his former wife’s 26-year old boyfriend in a hotel in Niigata. Fujishima’s death sentence was finalized in June of 1995. Kagayama, on the other hand, had his sentence recently finalized, August of last year. He too, was convicted of two murders. In July 2000 in Osaka, he stabbed and killed a 24-year old female Chinese citizen after stealing her bag and in the same city in February 2008, he also stabbed to death a 30-year old man from Kobe after the victim refused to give him money.
Justice Minister Tanigaki defended the hangings, saying, “The executions were carried out after carefully weighing (their cases),” and even described the murders committed as grisly, “brutal” and done “out of selfishness”. This after human rights group Amnesty International Japan, criticized the government on its continued practice of capital punishment and its failure to reveal the criteria in the schedule and number of inmates to be executed. A statement released by the group condemns the act, saying, “The fast pace at which the Abe administration is conducting executions goes directly against the international community’s repeated calls to abolish capital punishment.”