Japan executes three inmates
Tokyo: Japan on Thursday executed three inmates who had been sentenced to death, marking the first executions since conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in December, the Justice Ministry said.
The three inmates, who were ages 29, 44 and 62, had been convicted of murder and were hanged.
A total of 133 inmates are on death row in Japan, the highest number since 1949, when figures were first released.
Nine people were executed during the three years of the previous government.
The death penalty has been debated nationally in the Asian country, but polls show that a majority of Japanese support capital punishment.
Masahiro Kanagawa, 29, was executed in Tokyo for murdering two people and wounding several others in Ibaraki, a prefecture north of Tokyo, in March 2008.
Kaoru Kobayashi, 44, was hanged in the western city of Osaka for the kidnapping and murder of a seven-year-old girl in the western prefecture of Nara in November 2004.
Keiki Kato, 62, was executed in the central city of Nagoya for the murder of a bar owner who tried to prevent him from leaving her establishment without paying.
Japan had executed two inmates, including the first woman hanged in 15 years, in September 2012.