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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 …

Japan: New justice minister to 'respect courts' on death penalty

Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa
Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa
TOKYO ━ Japan's new justice minister, Yoko Kamikawa, says she will "act carefully and strictly as required by the law" regarding capital punishment, respecting the sentences handed down by courts.

"The death penalty is an extremely serious punishment that ends a person's life, and I feel we must approach its use with the most cautious of attitudes," Kamikawa said at her first press conference after her cabinet appointment.

"At the same time, this is a country ruled by laws, and we must rigorously carry out finalized court rulings. Death penalty rulings in particular are handed down by courts after careful deliberation to people who have committed heinous and grave crimes," she said.

Kamikawa previously served as justice minister under Abe between 2014 and 2015, ordering the execution of one death-row inmate during that time.

The retention of capital punishment in Japan has drawn criticism from the international community, with the U.N. Human Rights Committee urging the country in 2014 to give due consideration to the abolition of the death penalty.

Japan hanged two death-row inmates last month under Kamikawa's predecessor Katsutoshi Kaneda, in the 18th and 19th executions carried out since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned to power in December 2012.

Kamikawa also said her ministry will provide thorough training to police and other agencies on the application of a controversial law enacted earlier this year to punish the planning of a range of crimes.

"Making sure that this law is applied appropriately and fairly is a highly important task," Kamikawa said.

The Abe administration has said the law is a necessary tool to thwart planned terrorist attacks, while its opponents warn that the "conspiracy law" could be used arbitrarily to crack down on civil liberties.

Source: Japan Today, August 7, 2017

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