JAPAN: FOUR DEATH ROW INMATES EXECUTED
|Executions in Japan since 2003
January 29, 2009: Japan hanged four convicted murderers, officials said, carrying out the country's first executions of the year despite international criticism.
Japan last carried out executions in October when it hanged two inmates.
In a sign of Japan's commitment to the death penalty, three of the inmates were executed within three years of finalisation of their sentences. Japan often waits 10 years or more before hanging death-row inmates.
"These are heinous cases which destroyed precious human lives," Justice Minister Eisuke Mori told reporters.
"I ordered the executions after cautious examination," he said.
The executed inmates included Yukinari Kawamura, 44, and his accomplice Tetsuya Sato, 39, convicted of killing two women and then burning and cutting up their bodies.
Japan also executed Shojiro Nishimoto, 32, who was convicted of killing four people during repeated burglaries, the justice ministry said.
The other hanged inmate was Tadashi Makino, 58, who killed a woman and injured three other women during a burglary after he was released on parole on a life sentence in another murder-robbery case.
Authorities hanged the four in Tokyo, Nagoya and Fukuoka, leaving another 95 people on death row in Japan. (Sources: AFP, 29/01/2009)