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Japan: three men hanged earlier today- executions condemned

Amnesty International has strongly condemned the hanging of three men in Japan earlier today.

The executions - of Fukawa Hiroki, Fujima Seiha and Ikemoto Noboru - are the first under the present Japanese Minister of Justice, Hatoyama Kunio, who announced in September that he was considering scrapping the rule under Japan’s Criminal Procedure Code requiring the signature of the Minister of Justice for executions.

Executions in Japan are typically held in secret and prisoners are only informed hours before their execution that it is about to be carried out. Families are often not informed.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“This is more sad news from Japan - now the only major industrialised country in the world currently carrying out executions.

“The death penalty is always cruel and unnecessary and does nothing to deter crime - it has no place in the modern world and we urge Japan to make these the last executions in its country’s history.”

Amnesty International is calling on the Japanese government to cease executions in accordance with a recent UN resolution on a worldwide halt to all executions. On 15 November the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on a global executions moratorium.

Very few countries currently carry out executions: last year 25 countries executed prisoners and among major industrialised countries, Japan is now the only country with a fully operational death penalty system. In the USA, previously a major user of the penalty, the US Supreme Court has recently blocked all planned executions in the country until it makes a ruling on the constitutionality of conducting executions by lethal injection.

Currently there are at least 107 prisoners on death row in Japan. Twenty-three cases carrying the death sentence were confirmed by Japan’s courts in 2007, the highest number since 1962.

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