Justice Minister Satsuki Eda, an opponent of capital punishment, remained noncommittal Friday about whether he will sign off on executions when a prisoner’s time to hang comes.

The justice minister’s signature is needed to authorize each execution, and each person chosen for the post faces the same decision. On Friday, Eda didn’t appear to have a stance on the issue yet.

“Former Justice Minister (Keiko) Chiba has established a study group on capital punishment. I will consider my stance while I closely monitor how the discussion proceeds,” Eda said at news conference after he was appointed.

Eda also called the death penalty a faulty form of punishment, although he declined to elaborate.

Meanwhile, new Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, who created a stir when he called China a “bad neighbor” last year, declined to answer when he was asked if he still thought so Friday.

Edano said the government will take a firm stance against China when it concerns Japan’s national interests.

“There many issues over which Japan and China maintain different stances,” Edano diplomatically said. “We cannot compromise over some issues, but we will cooperate in a win-win manner on other issues.”

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