21 December 2021 :
Japan hanged three prisoners on 21 December 2021, its first executions in two years, with the government saying it was necessary to maintain capital punishment in the face of continued "atrocious crimes".
One of the three executed was Yasutaka Fujishiro, 65, who used a hammer and knife to kill his 80-year-old aunt, two cousins and four others in 2004, a justice ministry spokeswoman told AFP.
The other two were 54-year-old Tomoaki Takanezawa, who killed two clerks at an arcade game parlour in 2003, and his accomplice Mitsunori Onogawa, 44.
The executions were the first under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who took office in October.
"Whether to keep the death sentence or not is an important issue that concerns the foundation of Japan's criminal justice system," deputy chief cabinet secretary Seiji Kihara said.
"Given that atrocious crimes keep occurring one after another, it is necessary to execute those whose guilt is extremely grave so it is inappropriate to abolish capital punishment."
Members of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations "strongly protest" the three executions, the body's president Tadashi Ara said in a statement.
Ara urged the government to "abolish capital punishment and stop all executions until it is abolished".
Japan executed three death row inmates in 2019 and 15 in 2018 -- including 13 from the Aum Shinrikyo cult that carried out a fatal 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway.
More than 100 people are currently on death row in Japan, most of them for mass murder. Executions are carried out by hanging, usually long after sentencing.