Japan has executed three people convicted of murder. The first executions under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s new government have triggered condemnation from human rights group Amnesty International.
Japan hanged three convicted murderers in three different locations on Thursday morning.
The inmates of prisons in Osaka, Tokyo and Nagoya had each been found guilty of murder. One of them had abducted, abused and killed a young girl, the other two had robbed and killed several people.
The executions were the first since a conservative government came to power in Japan in September 2012.
"I ordered the executions after giving careful consideration to the matter," Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki told a press conference in Tokyo.
Seven executions took place in Japan in 2012 under the previous government of Yoshihiko Noda.
But as no one was executed in the country in 2011 Amnesty International Japan spoke of a surge in executions and of a worrying trend to make executions a "persistent practice."
"It is not necessary to review capital punishment in Japan," said Justice Minister Tanigaki in response to the criticism. Tanigaki, who took office in December has long been a strong supporter of the death penalty.
Japan and the United States are among the few major industrialized democracies that still impose death sentences.
Polls in Japan itself show a broad public support fro capital punishment.
Japan currently has more than 130 inmates on death row. Some of them have been waiting for their executions for many years in solitary confinement.
They are generally not informed of their pending execution until immediately before it is carried out.
rg/pfd (dpa, AFP, AP)