While the execution of Aum Shinrikyo cult founder Shoko Asahara and the group's former senior members may offer a degree of closure on a string of crimes that shocked the nation, it also creates an opportunity for further debate in Japanese society about the death penalty.

At a time when the global trend is toward abolishing capital punishment,the country's death penalty system has sparked international criticism — especially over the secrecy surrounding its executions — and has prompted critics to push for its abolition.

Even so, Friday's execution of the seven death row inmates including Asahara reflected the Justice Ministry's sensitivity not only to the feelings of victims and their families but also a strong public resentment against him over the deadly crimes he perpetrated.