Japan executes convicted killers; 2 men hanged in Tokyo

TOKYO  —  Two convicted killers were hanged in Japan Wednesday, including a man who burned six women to death, in the country's first executions in a year, the government said.
The justice ministry said Kazuo Shinozawa, 59, was hanged at the Tokyo Detention Center. Shinozawa set fire on a jewelry shop in 2000, burning six women to death.
The second death row inmate, Hidenori Ogata, 33, also was hanged at the Tokyo Detention Center. He strangled a woman and stabbed a man to death in 2003.
Justice Minister Keiko Chiba witnessed the double executions, the ministry said.
Japan's media are not allowed to cover executions. But following Wednesday's executions, Chiba said that should change.
Criminals can be left on death row for years in Japan, and executions — all carried out by hanging — are highly secretive. Inmates do not know when they will be executed, while lawyers and family are only told after the fact.
Japan, along with the United States, is one of the few industrialized countries that still has capital punishment. Japan has 107 death row inmates, the ministry said.
There is little public outcry against the death penalty in Japan, but the country has been criticized by rights groups such as Amnesty International and the main Japanese bar association.