Tuesday's hangings of serial killer Tsutomu Miyazaki and two other inmates come at a time when courts are more inclined to mete out capital punishment.

There had been a three-year unofficial moratorium on executions, but Justice Minister Masaharu Gotoda resumed them in 1993. There has been at least one hanging yearly since.

Executions are on the rise, especially under Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama, who with Tuesday's hangings has sent 13 people to the gallows.