• Kyodo News


A policeman convicted of double-murder was hanged Friday at the Osaka Detention House, where he had been on death row, sources said.

Kanagawa Prefectural policeman Susumu Kitagawa, 58, was convicted of robbing, raping and murdering a girl in Chiba Prefecture in 1983 and slaying a woman in Kochi Prefecture in 1989 in a similar manner.

Kitagawa was the eighth inmate executed since Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi took office in April 2001.

The execution was the first signed by Chieko Noono, who became justice minister last September. It has been about one year since the last executions, when Mamoru Takuma went to the gallows for murdering eight children in Osaka in 2001 in a school attack, as did triple-murderer mobster Sueo Shinmaki.

The Supreme Court in February 2000 rejected Kitagawa’s appeal of his sentence.

Kitagawa, from Kochi Prefecture, raped and strangled an 18-year-old girl in the city of Chiba and took 15,000 yen from her in August 1983, and raped and murdered a 24-year-old woman in Kochi and took 20,000 yen from her in February 1989, the top court said.

Amnesty International Japan criticized Friday’s execution, saying Japan is one of the few developed countries in the world with the death penalty and it was unaccountable to the public as it did not disclose sufficient information on the deaths.

The Justice Ministry only announces an execution has taken place and how many have been hanged, a practice begun in November 1998.

The human rights group also criticized the timing of the execution, saying it was carried out after Sunday’s House of Representative election and before the Diet was scheduled to convene next Wednesday.

“We are against the death penalty, as it damages human dignity,” the group said in a statement. “We strongly protest the government’s move.”

Go Kajitani, president of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, said in a statement it was regrettable the execution was carried out despite the association’s repeated insistence that hangings be suspended until a thorough national debate on the issue has been held.

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