As I posted here, two executions were carried out in Japan on September 27. Here are details of the executions.
From the Japan Times (Sept. 29, 2012):
Two inmates were executed Thursday, including a female cult leader convicted of murdering six of her followers.
It was the second round of hangings in two months and the third set since Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda took office in September 2011.
The latest hangings brought the total under his administration to seven. In the previous round on Aug. 3, two convicted murderers were hanged.
One of the prisoners put to death Thursday was 65-year-old Sachiko Eto, who was hanged in Sendai. Records indicate she was the fourth woman executed since 1950.
Justice Minister Makoto Taki, asked at a news conference why he signed the two execution orders, said that “the crimes (they committed) were extremely malignant and brutal.”
Eto was convicted of murdering six people and injuring one with kicks and blows delivered with fists and drumsticks between 1994 and 1995 under the pretext of exorcizing them of evil spirits. According to local media reports, Eto was a faith healer and lived in Fukushima Prefecture with her victims.
The other person put to death Thursday was Yukinori Matsuda, 39, who was executed in Fukuoka. He was convicted of murdering a couple he robbed in 2003 in Kumamoto Prefecture. He stabbed the husband and wife, both 54 years old, multiple times and stole from them more than ¥80,000 in cash as well as watches and other items worth ¥240,000.
There were no executions in 2011 after two inmates were hanged in 2010. Under the previous Liberal Democratic Party government, seven prisoners were hanged in 2009, 15 in 2008, nine in 2007 and four in 2006.
Thursday’s executions was criticized by human rights activists.
“We strongly oppose the third round of executions this year after none last year because it is a signal that the government and the Justice Ministry will stick to and continue” executions, Amnesty International Japan said.
Also from the Japan Times (Sept. 28, 2012):
Convict’s pre-execution letter says he regretted his crimes
A man convicted of two murders in Kumamoto Prefecture in 2003 sent a letter days before his execution Thursday expressing remorse for his crimes and requesting that his organs be donated for transplants.
Yukinori Matsuda, 39, stabbed to death Keiko Kinoshita and Takao Miura, both 54, at Kinoshita’s residence in what is now the city of Uki on Oct. 16, 2003. He then robbed them of around ¥80,000 in cash, as well as a wristwatch and other valuables, according to court rulings.
“I feel deep remorse for having committed something irreversible,” Matsuda says of the slayings in the letter, which was sent to one of his supporters, and adds that he prayed daily for the souls of his victims.
He effectively endorses the death penalty, saying, “I need to pay in accordance with what I have done.”
On a proposal to replace capital punishment with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, Matsuda writes, “In a sense, that is a punishment more cruel than the death sentence.”
He also voices his wish to donate his organs after his execution, writing, “I will have no regrets if my organs are used to save as many people as possible.” According to the Justice Ministry and other sources, no organs have ever been extracted from executed inmates for transplants.
Matsuda expresses concern about his mother, who lives on her own, saying, “When I think about my mother, I almost go insane out of regret and outrage with myself.”
He also describes his wishes to be notified at least two weeks before his execution and to be put to death by lethal injection rather than being sent to the gallows.
Death-row inmates are only notified on the morning of their execution and are hanged at their place where they are being detained.
Matsuda’s sentence was finalized after he withdrew an appeal in April 2009. He was one of the two death-row inmates executed Thursday.
France says no more
PARIS AFP- — France on Thursday urged Japan to place a moratorium on capital punishment after two convicts were hanged, bringing the total for this year to seven.
“France expresses its regret over the executions carried out today (Thursday) in Japan,” said Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Vincent Floreani.
“France urges Japan to restore its de facto moratorium observed in 2011 and to launch a national debate on capital punishment,” a statement said.
Sachiko Eto, 65, and Yukinori Matsuda, 39, were executed Thursday for murder. Japan did not execute anybody in 2011. It was the first full year in nearly two decades in which the country did not carry out a single death sentence amid a muted debate on the rights and wrongs of the policy.
France is set to launch a campaign Oct. 9 at the United Nations for a universal ban on capital punishment.
Apart from the U.S., Japan is the only major industrialized democracy to carry out executions, a practice that has led to repeated protests from European governments and human rights groups.