Thursday, Japan put to death three men convicted of multiple murders. According to the Justice Ministry, these are the first executions in the country in nearly two years. Toshio Ogawa, the Justice Minister, authorized the hangings, which took place in jails in Hiroshima, Fukuoka, and Tokyo.
In 2010, two inmates were put to death, which was the first time since the Democratic Party of Japan took over that capital sentences had been carried out. There are 132 death row inmates in Japan. Thirteen of those men are members of a cult that was responsible for attacking the Tokyo subway back in 1995. One of the men put to death on Thursday was convicted of killing five people in 1999 at a western Japan train station.
In 2009, a survey found that 86 percent of Japan’s population was supporters of the death penalty. Keiko Chiba, who was a former justice minister, was a staunch opponent of the death penalty; however, heauthorized the hangings in 2010. He attended those hangings, as well as allowing the media access to the death chamber in order to stir up a debate among the Japanese people.
When Ogawa took office back in January, he said that the executions of death row inmates would be ordered because there was a strong support for capital punishment by the Japanese people.
Amnesty International tracks such executions around the world. According to a report issued by the human rights group on Thursday, there were 676 executions in 2011. Those executions occurred in 20 countries. That is about 150 more executions when compared to the year before. The United States executed 43 people, which was three less than in 2010. China had the highest number of executionsof any country. In fact, their number was more than every other country put together.
There are only two leading economic powers out of the Group of Eight that have the death penalty: Japan and the United States. Both countries are targeted by Amnesty International and other similar groups.