Subject: [cwj 136] Protests as Japan executes three murderers
From: Corporate Watch in Japanese <>
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2000 12:12:32 -0800
Seq: 136

Thursday, November 30 5:14 PM SGT 

Protests as Japan executes three murderers

TOKYO, Nov 30 (AFP) - 

Three convicted killers were hanged in Japan early on Thursday sparking
furious protests from Amnesty International and activists
opposed to capital punishment.

"We have today executed three persons whose death sentences had been
confirmed," the justice ministry said in a one-line statement
which, as is customary, omitted the convicts' names and details of where
they were hanged.

Amnesty International campaigner Akira Ishikawa accused the government of
timing the hangings to take place just a day before the
end of the current Diet (parliament) session.

"Their political motives are very clear. With a December cabinet reshuffle
looming, the ministry tried to avoid creating a minister with
no execution record," he said.

Justice Minister Okiharu Yasuoka, who had not sent anyone to the gallows
since being appointed in July, is expected be replaced
shortly along with other members of Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori's cabinet.

"These were last-minute executions. It is stunning that they dare take away
people's lives only at their convenience," the Amnesty
campaigner said.

In Japan, inmates often spend years on death row before being executed
without warning to themselves or their families.

At least another 52 people are on death row in Japan, said Yoshihiro
Yasuda, an activist from the Capital Punishment Abolition Forum.

He identified the three executed Thursday as Kiyotaka Fujiwara, Takashi
Miyawaki and Kunikatsu Oishi.

Miyawaki and serial killer Fujiwara were both hanged at a prison in the
central Japanese city of Nagoya while Oishi was put to death in
Fukuoka, southern Japan, the activist said. 

Fujiwara, a 52-year-old former fireman, was sentenced to death for
murdering eight people over a 10-year period from 1972.
Miyawaki, 57, was convicted for killing his estranged wife's parents and
sister in 1989.

Oishi, 55, received the death sentence for murdering three members of a
neighbouring family in 1983 because he suspected they had
stolen a hose clamp, reports said.

Two members of the opposition Social Democratic Party who are against
capital punishment, Nobuto Hosaka and Reiko Oshima, had
earlier appealed to the justice ministry in a bid to win clemency, Yasuda

"As we heard about the planned executions before they took place, two
lawmakers directly appealed to the deputy justice ministers to
stop them carrying them out," he told AFP. 

"But the ministry ignored the plea and went ahead with the executions."

The executions were the first under Mori's seven-month-old administration,
and the first since two prisoners were hanged on
December 17 last year.

In a government poll of 5,000 adults released in November last year, a
record 80 percent of Japanese surveyed said they supported
capital punishment, up 5.5-percentage points from 1994.

It was the highest level of support since the government started to take
polls on the death penalty in 1956. Only 8.8 percent said the
death penalty should be abolished.

Officials attributed the support to a series of heinous crimes in recent
years, such as the nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway by the
Aum Supreme Truth cult in March 1995, which killed 12 people and injured
thousands more.

Japan has executed 39 prisoners since it resumed carrying out death
sentences in 1993 after a four-year unofficial moratorium.

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