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Japan: Latest double hanging condemned

Five executions so far this year under new Prime Minister

The execution of two death row inmates in Japan today, is part of a chilling escalation of death penalty use under the new Liberal Democratic government, Amnesty International has said.

Earlier today the two men  - Yoshihide Miyagi, 56, and Katsuji Hamasaki, 64 -  were hanged in Tokyo, after they had both been convicted of murder for shooting rival gang members in a restaurant in Ichihara city in 2005.

The executions are the fourth and fifth to take place in Japan since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in December, with three other men hanged in February. In total, Japan has executed 12 people in the last year. By contrast, before March 2012 no executions had been carried out for 20 months in the country.

Amnesty International Asia Pacific Director Catherine Baber said:

“This shocking news unfortunately reinforces our fears that the new government is increasing the pace of executions in an alarming way.

“We have already seen five executions this year, and it shows that the government has no intention of heeding international calls to start a genuine and open public debate on the death penalty including abolition.

“We urge the government to immediately reverse this worrying trend and impose a moratorium on the death penalty with a view to its eventual abolishment.”

Ten people were hanged in less than a year during Shinzo Abe’s previous time as Prime Minister between September 2006 and September 2007.  Meanwhile, the current Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki has publicly expressed his support for the death penalty as well, adding to concerns that the total number of executions under Abe’s previous government might even be surpassed this time.

Amnesty opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime, guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual or the method used by the state to carry out the execution. The death penalty violates the right to life and is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

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