Ministry to continue withholding names of those hanged

Following news of two hangings Tuesday, Justice Minister Daizo Nozawa said Friday the ministry will continue its practice of withholding the names of executed inmates.

“There is also the issue of family (privacy and other matters),” Nozawa told reporters in explaining the ministry’s refusal to disclose the identities of those who are executed.

Referring to Tuesday’s executions, Nozawa said: “I believe that it was appropriately done. It is important to strictly follow the rules.”

Sources said the two hanged Tuesday were Mamoru Takuma, who massacred eight schoolchildren in Osaka in 2001 in an attack that stunned Japan, and Sueo Shimazaki, a gangster convicted of killing three people in 1988.

As is the usual practice, the ministry disclosed the hangings but not the identity of the convicts. Executions are not announced until the day they take place, a practice that human rights groups have said is inhumane.

Japan has hanged 46 people since it resumed executions in 1993 after a moratorium of 40 months. Some 60 people are currently on death row.