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JAPAN: 3 INMATES HANGED; 1ST EXECUTIONS SINCE JULY 2010

March 29, 2012: Japan hanged three death-row inmates in its first executions since 2010, reigniting the debate over capital punishment in one of the world’s richest countries.
“Today, three executions were carried out,” Justice Minister Toshio Ogawa told reporters. “I have carried out my duty as a justice minister as stipulated by law,” he said. 
The men—Yasuaki Uwabe, 48, Tomoyuki Furusawa, 46, and Yasutoshi Matsuda, 44—were hanged in three different prisons in Tokyo, Hiroshima and Fukuoka. Uwabe drove his car into Shimonoseki Station in Yamaguchi Prefecture and then knifed people nearby, killing five, in 1999. Furusawa murdered his in-laws and stepson in Yokohama in 2002, while Matsuda killed two people in 2001.
The hangings are only the second time the left-leaning Democratic Party of Japan has implemented the death penalty since it came to power in September 2009.
Japan did not execute anyone in 2011, the first year in nearly two decades the country has not carried out a single death sentence amid a debate on the rights and wrongs of capital punishment.
Ogawa said following the executions that 132 people remained on death row.
The last execution in Japan was in July 2010 when then justice minister Keiko Chiba, a former socialist and lawyer, approved the hanging of two inmates, despite her long-time opposition to the death penalty. The two were Kazuo Shinozawa, 59, who killed six people by setting fire to a jewelry store, and Hidenori Ogata, 33, who killed a man and a woman and seriously injured two others. (Sources: Japan Today, 29/03/2012)

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