JAPAN APPLIES DEATH PENALTY AT HIGHEST RATE SINCE 1975
October 28, 2008: Japan defied international opinion by executing two men on the same day that the UN issued a report critical of its use of the death penalty. The executions brought the number of hangings in Japan this year to 15 - the highest since 1975, when 17 inmates were sent to the gallows.
"Choosing the same day to hang two men sends a clear signal to the UN that Japan is not willing to listen to criticism or take on board recommendations," Makoto Teranaka, the secretary general of Amnesty International's Japan office, said.
Though he stopped short of accusing the government of using the executions to detract attention from Japan's economic woes, Teranaka said it was pandering to public opinion.
"Crime is falling, and the murder rate is very low, but blanket reporting of crime by the media has made people more afraid and less tolerant," he said. "In that sense the Japanese government is indulging in penal populism." (Sources: Guardian Unlimited, 28/10/2008)