JAPAN: TWO CONVICTED MURDERERS HANGED
December 18, 2015: Japan executed two death row prisoners, including the nation's first of a condemned inmate sentenced by jurors, officials and media said, as campaigners called for the country to abolish capital punishment.
The two executions for multiple murders bring to 14 the total number of death sentences carried out since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took power in late 2012.
Sumitoshi Tsuda, 63, was hanged for killing three people in the city of Kawasaki, near Tokyo, in May 2009, a justice ministry official said.
It was Japan's first execution of a death row inmate sentenced by so-called lay judges, Japanese media reported.
Japan in 2009 launched a jury system in which citizens deliberate with professional judges in a bid to boost the role of the citizenry in the judicial process.
Under the system, a total of 26 people have been sentenced to death, according to public broadcaster NHK.
"Lay judges made the very grave judgement and I took it seriously," Justice Minister Mitsuhide Iwaki told a news conference.
Separately, Kazuyuki Wakabayashi was executed for killing two people -- a 52-year-old woman and her daughter -- in 2006 in Iwate, northern Japan, the ministry official said. The 39-year-old was sentenced to death by professional judges.
Japan now has 127 inmates on death row, according to the justice ministry. (Sources: AFP, 18/12/2015)