HomeWorldJapan executes prisoner who killed 7 people in Tokyo street massacre

Japan executes prisoner who killed 7 people in Tokyo street massacre

By MARI YAMAGUCHI Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) — Japan executed a man Tuesday who killed seven people in a car accident and stabbing in a busy Tokyo shopping district in 2008.

Justice Minister Yoshihisa Furukawa told reporters that Tomohiro Kato was hanged at the Tokyo detention center early Tuesday.

Japan has retained the death penalty despite mounting international criticism. Furukawa said that capital punishment was a justified response to continuing heinous and violent crimes and that eliminating it was not appropriate at this time.

Furukawa said that Kato had thoroughly prepared to commit the mass murders, “a heinous act that had extremely serious consequences and had a huge impact on society.”

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In the attack, Kato drove his truck down a street in Akihabara’s electronics shopping area, crashing into a crowd and killing three pedestrians in June 2008. He then got out of the vehicle and stabbed four people to death. He injured or injured 10 others.

Surveillance footage broadcast by national broadcaster NHK showed Kato shopping for hunting knives two days before the attack, laughing with a store worker and at times making stabbing motions with his hands. Media reports also said that he had posted various dejected messages and warnings on Internet message boards that he was planning to kill people in a massive attack.

Kato, 39, was sentenced to death in 2011 by the Tokyo District Court and the Supreme Court rejected his appeal in 2015.

Furukawa denied that Tuesday’s hanging was linked to the shooting death of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier this month, shocking a nation known for strict gun controls and a low crime rate.

Tuesday’s hanging was the second under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who took office in October.

Japan now has 107 people on death row, including 61 seeking new trials, Furukawa said.

Japan and the United States are the only two countries in the Group of Seven advanced countries that retain capital punishment. A survey conducted by the Japanese government showed that an overwhelming majority of the public supports executions.

Executions are carried out in secret in Japan, where prisoners are not informed of their fate until the morning they are hanged. Since 2007, Japan has begun to reveal the names of those executed and some details of their crimes, but the disclosures are still limited.

Three prisoners were hanged in 2021.

In 2018, Japan hanged 15 people, including cult guru Aum Shinrikyo and 12 former followers convicted in the Tokyo subway sarin gas attack that killed 13 people and sickened thousands.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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