• Kyodo

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A group of 15 Japanese activists — including a former death row inmate — opposed to capital punishment protested the death penalty at a symposium Monday organized by Amnesty International in Rome.

Sakae Menda, a 76-year-old former inmate who was mistakenly convicted of murder and served 34 years on death row in a Japanese prison, said that what happened to him should not happen to anyone.

“So that my experience will not be repeated by somebody else, I will continue to fight against the death penalty around the world,” Menda said in a 40-minute speech.

The Japanese group is expected to visit the Vatican on Tuesday. The Holy See has been forceful in its condemnation of the death penalty.

The activists are scheduled to attend a rally Thursday in Strasbourg, France, aimed at drawing attention to the death penalty issue ahead of a Parliamentary Assembly session of the Council of Europe, where the death penalty customs in Japan and the United States are expected to become a major issue.

Both Japan and the U.S. hold observer status at the 43-member council, which bans the death penalty.

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