The Justice Ministry on Friday reported the execution of a death-row inmate, a scenario that may provoke criticism both domestically and abroad.

The inmate was Shinji Mukai, who was convicted of killing two housewives and a child in Himeji and Kobe, both in Hyogo Prefecture, in 1985, according to sources.

The ministry does not announce the names of executed inmates.

Mukai, 42, had been on death row at the Osaka Detention House since 1996.

In May, a suprapartisan group of 122 lawmakers submitted legislation aimed at introducing life imprisonment without parole as an alternative to capital punishment.

They group also advocated the establishment of an ad hoc panel to examine the death penalty issue.

The latest execution is the first since September 2002, when one death-row inmate at the Nagoya detention center and another at the Fukuoka detention center were executed.

It is also the 44th execution since the government resumed executions in March 1993, following a hiatus of three years and four months.

Mukai broke into a house in Himeji on Nov. 29, 1985. He stabbed 30-year-old Hiromi Tanizawa and her 3-year-old son, Masanobu, to death after threatening her with a knife and robbing her of around 43,000 yen, according to the final ruling on his case.

On Dec. 3 the same year, he broke into an apartment in Kobe and demanded money from Masami Shitagaki, 34. He stabbed her to death after she refused.

Both the Kobe District Court and the Osaka High Court sentenced Mukai to death, a decision endorsed by the Supreme Court in December 1996.

The latest execution is the fifth since Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi took office in April 2001.

Execution denounced

Amnesty International Japan on Friday denounced the Justice Ministry’s latest execution of a prisoner.

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