Japan Today

Japan hangs two death-row inmates


Japan hanged two men on Thursday, bringing to eight the number of prisoners executed since the conservative government of Shinzo Abe came to power a year ago.

"There are various criticisms of the death penalty... but Japanese law allows for it and I believe we have people's support in principle," Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki said as he announced the latest executions.

Surveys have showed the death penalty has overwhelming public support in Japan despite repeated protests from European governments and human rights groups.

One of those executed Thursday was Ryoji Kagayama, 63, who stabbed to death a student from China after robbing her in 2000 in Osaka. He also knifed a man to death in 2008 in a failed robbery attempt. He was sentenced to death in 2012.

The other prisoner was Mitsuo Fujishima, 55, who drowned a relative of his former wife in a bath in 1986 and murdered an acquaintance of her days later in Yamanashi Prefecture.

Japan now has 129 inmates on death row, according to justice ministry data.

Amnesty International Japan blasted the executions, saying "the high-paced executions under the Abe administration stands squarely against repeated international calls for abolition of death penalty."

Tokyo did not execute anyone in 2011, the first full year in nearly two decades without an execution amid muted debate on the rights and wrongs of a policy that enjoys wide public support.

But in March last year it abruptly resumed its use of capital punishment, dispatching three multiple murderers.

Seven prisoners were executed in 2012.

International advocacy groups say the system is cruel because inmates can wait for their executions for many years in solitary confinement and are only told of their impending death a few hours ahead of time.

© (c) 2013 AFP

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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0 ( +4 / -4 )

What about Shoko Asahara & his Aum minions?

12 ( +12 / -2 )

I'm all in favor for the death penalty, if the majority of the public of Japan support it. We have it here in Texas and don't face much opposition to it.

6 ( +17 / -11 )

The other prisoner was Akira Morinaga, 55

Not according to the Japanese press. The name of the 55 year old is reported to be Mitsuo Fujishima.



8 ( +8 / -0 )

I'm against the death penalty, but it should be up to the people of the country to decide. Speaking to normal Japanese people about it, you can tell straight away that the public support for it is extremely high, so it's unlikely it will even be a serious topic for change in the short to medium future. Although they could probably change it from hanging to lethal injection.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Jeffrey, As soon as Asahara is dead, his soul will be released and ready for re-incarnation / channeling for continued teaching, or whatever his whacky followers what to go with. They can use him in more ways once he's dead. I think we're all better off with him rotting in a cell.

As for the two killed today, I wonder how solid the cases against them were...

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Speaking to normal Japanese people about it, you can tell straight away that the public support for it is extremely high

Because they're taught in school that it's 'right'.

6 ( +13 / -7 )

Because they're taught in school that it's 'right'.

Yeah that's possible, but my gf went to school here and in the States, and she is adamantly for the death penalty, saying that is the only thing she would accept if someone murdered one of her family members or whatever. I don't think it's a matter of right and wrong, more of a sense of justice and accountability.

I grew up in Australia and I was taught that the death penalty is wrong, so it applies both ways anyway.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

Thank you. The story has been corrected.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As long as there absolutely no doubt about who killed who and someone didn't get convicted by forced confession or misleading incorrect information then I would say if you are callous enough to takes someone's life intentionally then you don't deserve the one you have. Hang em high and right away ..save the tax payers money.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

So long as the hanged are guilty beyond doubt then let them swing. Where I grew up the death penalty has been abolished. I say bring it back.

-2 ( +9 / -11 )

Crazedinjapan: As long as there absolutely no doubt about who killed who

That's the problem. How can you ever have absolutely no doubt, unless the plaintiff gives a full confession? So often we're seeing stories (from the U.S. at least, I can't speak for anywhere else) about how a person who has been on death row for 30 years was released because modern forensic technology (DNA testing, for example) proved that the justice system incorrectly found them guilty in cases from a time when such technology didn't exist. We also see the stories where they're too late, and found a different murderer after another person was already (wrongly) executed for having committed it. Think about how technology will develop even more in 20-30 years in the future - they'll look at what we're doing today and roll their eyes at us. That's the way of history. So, while I understand that we can only do the best we can at any given situation, I'd argue that there is far too much precedence of us getting things wrong to execute people in response to "our certainty."

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Are they taught in school now that it's right? I've never heard about it and never been taught that way.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Some people think the death penalty is a deterrent, but all statistics show this isn't so. Other's think it is a moral issue of right and wrong. This is too much of a grey area for me. The feeling of revenge is very understandable as a deep desire. Still I am against it simply because it is very dangerous in a democracy to hand such life and death powers over citizens to the state. Peace loving people should always look for ways to disempower relations. If someone shows they cannot live peacefully with others, then they should be held apart, as they have broken the social contract. But to kill them is to rewrite this contract granting some an ultimate power: that over whether one lives or dies.

6 ( +10 / -4 )


"Because they're taught in school that it's 'right'."

100% wrong. I grew up in Japan and none of my teachers taught or justified that death penalty is right. It's possible that some teachers might preach that to some students as their opinions but it's not a curriculum like you make it sound like

11 ( +15 / -4 )

Lucky they hanged two death row inmates and not some other prisoners....

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Why didn`t they wait until Christmas, like they did a few years ago? (sarcasm intended)

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

if there is overwhelming support for it in japan, then why should they change to reflect western opinion? talk about cultural hegemony. i for one am all for the death penalty. people who commit inhumane acts don't deserve to be treated humanely.

-6 ( +6 / -11 )

If you wanted capital punishment to be any kind of a "deterrant," you would have to truly decivilize it, roll it back a few hundred years, make it grisly, bloody and public, and forget about affording human rights to death-row inmates. As it is, in Japan, we find out about executions on the same day as the executed criminal, in stories that are almost apologetic.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

@Jeffrey Rolek. Asahara hasnt been hanged yet precisely because of his high profile. Having said that, the way the inmates who are picked out from deathrow in Japan to be executed is decided seems to be random. There seem to be others whove languished on death row for decades for example

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I rather be dead than being in solitary confinement. But that's just me.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@ Jeff, and I would also add the public humiliation by using a stockade for lesser violations, starting at an early age. When I grew up that example of being peppered by tomatoes (or worse) on the local city square kept me thinking before acting. It was not done then but the historical facts were included in our history lessons. The other added bonus is that your parents made sure you did not make a mistake because they would also be humiliated. If rightfully convicted you should also lose your civil right until released from the penalty.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

It's kind of silly to see people from western nations with murder rates higher than that of Japan trying to argue that the death penalty "doesn't work." It seems to "work" reasonably well for Japan, if the murder rate is your metric...

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

129 on death row ,some deterrent.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I'm a strong believer that if you take someone else's life you automatically lose the right to your own life. While we are at it we should throw rapists and pedophiles onto death row as well.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

Japan`s legal system is primarily based on confessions. You are in the hands of the police, ergo you are guilty. The sooner you confess to your crime, the sooner you receive a more merciful punishment. The police also have 23 days in which to obtain their confession. Lo and behold, they have a 99 percent conviction rate. With all that in mind, you have to ask, how many inmates on death row are currently guilty? A previous justice minister, Keiko Chiba, invited journalists to witness a couple of executions a few years back. Her successors though, have made the process secretive again. Once could conclude that Japanese people support the death penalty because they are uninformed

6 ( +9 / -3 )

In a perfect world only guilty people would be executed but time after time people's innocence has been discovered after the fact. This alone should be the very reason capital punishment is abolised...For the supporters, imagine if you were innocent and executed....would this change your view? I am Australian and am proud that constitutionally the death penalty can never be reintroduced in Australia.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

@ original, ok I'll humor you, if the person recanted their confession and can't be proven with cameras or absolute forensic evidence dated from when close circuit cameras or DNA testing then ya...don't hang. But if they are caught red handed via video , public witnessing or the pert confessed on the spot they hang them. Remember there isn't a place you can travel in a populated area in japan that you aren't going to get caught on camera ( unless you are a ninja )

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

@Crazedinjapan. Oh, you haven`t heard of planted evidence at the scene of the crime?

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

II live in Nevada, USA. There are death penalty ib our state, After all appealing is exhausted, they get death sentence. Not hanging but by lethal injection, Waiting time? very short.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

you really have only 2 possibilities in capital crime- the death penalty or life without parole.

the angle here uses is cruel punishment by not telling the prisoner when- then have them live in misery , then the next argument will be : but you are making them live in misery:

then if Japan removes the death penalty the push will be to make the life imprisonment sentence very loose- because in 10 years people really learn that killing is wrong.....

but what the wailing when countries whose idea of a life sentence is 10 years cry when someone in their 30's get out and start murdering people again.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

aussie-musashi said "Japan`s legal system is primarily based on confessions"

No. It is not. If no evidence, suspect will not be indicted.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Abe is trying to frighten secret leakers that they could possibly be hung should they even tell the public and outside world how often he goes to the toilet.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hang? Shouldn't it evolve to lethal injection instead? While at it, in terms of number of execution, US is no. 1.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Don't make a noise 'Cause it's natural to execute them to hang. They were murderer. Do you know why Japanese condemned criminals are hung? Because as a punishment for giving pain. I think, unti-executions don't understand victim's sensation!! I never forgive condemned criminals and I want to hang them all as fast as possible.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

@zichi: remind you there are 50 states in USA, not just 18 states.. I only wrote our state, Nevada. It is differnet here. Many states that have state income tax. Nevada does not have state income tax. Gambling busdiness is legal, etc. Nevada is not in neither Michigan nor Wisconsin,nor Maine. A few days ago, one murderer got death sentence in Las Vegas City, Unlike Michigan, Wisconsin or Mane, it is next to Calif. ,

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Death penalty is what animals like them deserve. In my opinion once you commit a crime sutch as rape, murder, stabbing and so on thats where you lose your human rights. And all of those who say that they still have rights are wrong. You want them to go free after several years and repeat the same thing. Maybe 1 out of 100 people would change their life style. But people like the two hanged do not change.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Life in prison without the possibility of parole seems sufficient to me. I will gladly pay my taxes to keep them there rather than have them killed.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

couversaka: Honestly, who can believe that someone at the point to make a murder is able to make a rational thinking with the potential capital punishment?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

UN complained Japanese death sentence is inhumane, On the contrary, USA death sentences use lethal injection. ..... @zichi. I was writing about existence of lethal injection in USA. You are the one who discussed about USA death sentence situations of other states. I only wrote about one state that uses lethal injection.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Yardley... I dont want to work for 10 hours a day 6 days a week to keep animals in their cages who do nothing.... and did nothing but wronged people in the past. You are basicaly paying for a bunch of murderers, rapists, child molesters and who knows what other horrible criminals.

-1 ( +4 / -4 )

"Hang 'me HIGH " ! "Bring on the next Victim " !

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Guess I'll never understand the process of correcting deaths with further deaths...

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Lost in all this discussion is the perspective of outsiders like those in North America or Europe. There are HUNDREDS of sickos here in Canada that people would LOVE to get the death penalty because you see, prison here unlike Asia, is a joke. Prisoners get wifi, computers, tv time, nice cooked meals, reading time, etc.

Why should a man who killed or raped a child be allowed to live?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

目には目を...an eye for an eye...dont know if I got that right.

" Putting a murderer away for life just isn't good enough. Laws change, so do parole boards, and people forget the past. Those are things that cause life imprisonment to weather away. As long as the murderer lives, there is always a chance, no matter how small, that he will strike again. And there are people who run the criminal justice system who are naive enough to allow him to repeat his crime" (According to the US Department of Justice, the average prison sentence served for murder is five years and eleven months.) Released to kill again....and this is just a small copy and paste.

Charles Crawford -- Missouri. Life term in 1965 for murder. Paroled 1990. Convicted of murder again in 1994. Jack Ferrell -- Florida. Committed Murdered 1981. 15 years to life, 1982. Paroled 1987. Murdered again 1992. Condemned 1993. Timothy Buss -- Murdered five-year-old girl. Sentenced to 25 years in 1981. Paroled 1993. Murdered 10-year-old boy. Condemned 1996. Randolph Dial -- Oklahoma. Life for murder 1986. Escaped from prison with deputy warden's wife as kidnap victim. 1989. Still at large. Warden's wife never found. Arthur J. Bomar, Jr. -- released from prison in Nevada on parole in 1990. Bomar had served 11 years of a murder sentence for killing a man over an argument about a parking space. Six years later in Pennsylvania, Bomar brutally kidnapped, raped and murdered George Mason University star athlete Aimee Willard.

Anyway I'm with Japan on this issue.....

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Do you know why Japanese condemned criminals are hung?

Nit picky, I know: "hanged," not "hung." Because they are condemned criminals, not curtains.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

There is a very low recidivism rate among those who have been subjected to capital punishment

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

All of you death penalty advocates keep missing the point of the argument: The possibility of executing innocent people. As there is no guarantee that the innocent won`t be executed (and Japan uses coercive interrogation techniques, no video taping etc) capital punishment should not exist

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

john constance: When you write details, please check thoroughly. For instance Bomer. His sentence of 11 year is is not murder. shooting in parking. He violated parole and Nevada parole board wanted him back but he kept violation. It was not murder conviction in Nevada. Only 11 years because no one was injured.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@John Constantine: Bomer was sentenced11 years in Nevada for shooting in garage, not murder.

1 ( +1 / -0 )


-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I love the death penalty!! Still over 120 scumbags on death row here in Japan??? Well, that's 120 animals!! Worse than monsters that need to killed off ASAP!! Except Asahara Shoko, that scum Aum leader needs to be used as bait! To bring out of hiding the rest of his evil believers!!

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

@open minded, can you still say that again when somebody close to you was murdered?When the crime is so vicious and the real perpetrator is caught then would you still object to capital punishment? Would you pity the living criminal and not the dead victim who for all we know might have grand dreams cut short by some crazy dude?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If you sentence someone to death, dont make them wait years for it.

2 ( +1 / -0 )

If you sentence someone to death, dont make them wait years for it.

The Japanese legal system believes that slow action implies higher quality of processing. They simply delay decisions on the basis of this idea. Sometimes they know they have made a bad decision then they delay releasing it to imply it was the best decision that one could make!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If the death penalty doesn't work, why do murderers use it? The big difference is that they apply it immediately; not ten or fifteen years later.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

If the death penalty doesn't work, why do murderers use it? The big difference is that they apply it immediately; not ten or fifteen years later.

You want the government to be on the same level as murderers and scum?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

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