Tokyo: On Thursday Japan executed the first foreigner, a 40-year-old Chinese man who was convicted of murdering a family of four. This has been the first execution of a foreigner since 2007 when disclosure of details on sentences carried out began, said the justice ministry. Before 2007, the identity of those who got executed was not disclosed in data that was issued on capital punishment.
According to the media reports, the man named Wei Wei had committed the murders with two other accomplices, who were also Chinese nationals, in mid-2003. The two accomplices were able to flee back to China only to get arrested over there. One of them was executed in 2005 while the other received a life sentence.
Japan is one of the two Groups of Seven advanced nations along with the USA to retain the death penalty with an overwhelming majority of the public favoring it. Prisoners are usually hanged in Japan and if condemned, they are not told when will their execution take place until the morning of the day the sentence will be carried out.
Around 120 prisoners are on death row and last year 15 of them were executed making it the highest for a decade. Among these 15 people 13 were former members of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult who were convicted of carrying out sarin gas attacks in the Tokyo subway.
According to the justice ministry, the execution on Thursday is the 39th since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has returned to power in 2012.