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The Aum Shinrikyo Executions: Why Now?

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With the execution of Aum Shinrikyo leader and six of his followers, Japan looks to leave behind an era of tragedy. 
On July 6, 2018, Japanese authorities executed seven members of the religious movement Aum Shinrikyo (Aum true religion, or supreme truth), which carried out the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin attack and a series of other atrocities. None of the seven of the executed men were directly involved in releasing the gas on that tragic day; four of those who did remain under a death sentence, and their executions may be imminent.
The seven executed were involved in planning and organizing the various crimes committed by Aum. Asahara Shoko (born Matsumoto Chizuo), was the founder and leader of the movement, having developed the doctrinal system instrumental to Aum’s violence and its concept of a final cosmic war of good (Aum) against evil (the corrupt material world and everyone — from the Japanese government to the general public — who lived in it). Asahara is believed to have given …

129 inmates on death row in Japan at end of 2016

Gallows at Tokyo Detention Center
Gallows at Tokyo Detention Center
TOKYO — The number of death row inmates in Japan in 2016 was 129 on Saturday, a rise of two people from 2015, 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 Ministry of Justice told Kyodo News.

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, southwestern Japan, was hanged, according to the ministry.

The seven people newly sentenced to death last 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.

Source: Japan Times, January 1, 2017

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