Tokyo – Japan hanged two inmates this Thursday September 27th 2012, two months after the last executions took place on August 3rd.
Sachiko Eto, 65, a faith healer and self-professed exorcist, was convicted for murder after the deaths of six believers in Fukushima Prefecture between 1994 and 1995.
According to Japanese media reports and The Associated Press, Sachiko Eto, her daughter and another accomplice had beaten their victims to death, using thick drumsticks designed for the Japanese 太鼓 (Taiko) and other blunt instruments. The beating were to “drive out demons hiding in their bodies” and conducted in her home. At least one of the exorcism (悪魔払い）was apparently motivated by Ms. Eto’s decision that the the victim was sleeping with Ms. Eto’s lover. Another victim was “exorcised” after refusing to loan Ms. Eto money. There were also questions as to the vanishing of her husband in 1992, before she became a spiritual leader.
She was convicted on four counts of murder, and two counts of assault resulting in death. She was hanged this Thursday morning in Sendai detention center. At this point in the time, while Ms. Eto was blessed with magical powers, she has not successfully resurrected herself. Sachiko Eto is reportedly the first female in Japan to be executed in more than 15 years. Her daughter and the other accomplice have both been sentenced to life in prison.
Yukinori Matsuda, 39, was convicted for the murder of a man and a woman during a robbery in Uki, Kumamoto Prefecture in 2003. He also died by hanging the same morning in Fukuoka detention center. Nikkansports reported it was found that Matsuda had written a letter, dated from September 19th, to the families of those he killed, where he wrote that he would donate his organs after his execution and that “there would be no regrets.” In the letter, he also expressed that he deeply regretted having committed the “irreparable act,” and that he was “praying for the souls of his victims.” In the letter, he also said that he would have preferred to receive a lethal injection rather than be hung.
Kyodo News reported that it was the second round of executions carried under the Justice Minister Makoto Taki. According to Kyodo News, Minister Taki said at a press conference that he had selected the two inmates for their “extremely malicious and cruel crimes, which had a very negative social impact.”
Japan still one of the few industrialized countries to administer the death penalty
Japan is one of the last industrialized countries to still practice death penalty, together with the United States, China, and Middle East countries.
According to Amnesty International, from 1977 to 2010, the number of countries which abolished death penalty for all crime went from 16 to 96, and the death penalty has been abolished in 140 countries “by law or in practice,” while 58 countries, including Japan, maintains it.
In October 2010, The Japan Economic Newswire reported that “Japan has been urged to consider termination of the death penalty, regardless of domestic public opinion to support it, with the Geneva-based Human Rights Committee saying in 2008, ‘Regardless of opinion polls, the state party (Japan) should favorably consider abolishing the death penalty and inform the public, as necessary, about the desirability of abolition.’”
Reportedly, Mr. Kunio Suzuki, a Japanese right wing activist, expressed opposition to capital punishment on October 10th, 2010 during a anti-death penalty rally in Tokyo on the World’s Day Against Death Penalty: “Death row inmates must have killed someone in extremely embattled situations, and we should examine their experiences as ‘negative legacy’ of a state and pay attention to individual stories of each death row inmate.” He said.