|Gallows at Tokyo's Detention Center|
TOKYO — Newly appointed Justice Minister Hideo Hiraoka, speaking at his first news conference on Friday night, said that he had no plans to approve any executions of death-row inmates in the foreseeable future.
No condemned convicts have been executed in Japan for more than a year. Currently, Japanese prisons have 120 inmates on death row — the highest figure in recent history. Since the last execution was carried out 13 months ago, 16 new death sentences have been handed down by courts. Of these, eight cases involved rulings in which citizen jurors took part.
Hiraoka said there was a growing movement worldwide to abolish the death penalty and said he wants to study both sides the issue more deeply. “The death penalty is always a last resort and I must be extremely cautious about making a decision to approve an execution. For the time being, I can’t see any executions going ahead.”
Source: Japan Today, Sept. 3, 2011