National / Crime & Legal

Japan’s death-row population numbers 129 as 2016 ends

Kyodo

The number of death-row inmates in Japan in 2016 is expected to stand at 129 by Dec. 31, a rise of two people from last year, while continuing to surpass the threshold of 100 since 2007.

Three inmates were executed during the year, while seven people were given the death penalty, the Justice Ministry told Kyodo News on Thursday.

Of the total figure, 128 people are officially registered as inmates at detention centers. Iwao Hakamada, 80, a former professional boxer convicted in the murder of four people in 1966, was released in 2014 after a court decided to open a retrial.

Yasutoshi Kamata, 75, who was convicted of murdering a 9-year-old girl in Osaka and four women between 1985 and 1994, was put to death in March. Junko Yoshida, 56, a former nurse who masterminded two murders for insurance money, in 1998 and 1999 in Fukuoka Prefecture, was also executed in March.

In November, Kenichi Tajiri, 45, who killed two women in two murder-robbery cases in 2004 and 2011 in Kumamoto, was hanged, according to the ministry.

The seven people newly sentenced to death this year include 25-year-old Yutaro Chiba, who in July became the first to be given capital punishment under the lay judge trial system for a crime committed by a teenager. Chiba was convicted of murdering two women in 2010 when he was 18 years old.