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Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012

Group asks new justice minister not to issue execution orders


A human rights group has asked new Justice Minister Toshio Ogawa to continue suspending executions, after he indicated Friday shortly after being named to his new post that he may resume issuing orders for hangings.

While Ogawa told a news conference that "it's very hard duty, but I want to take the responsibility," the Center for Prisoners' Rights said in its letter to him, "you would be abdicating your duty to say you will order executions without examining court documents for each death-row inmate."

The Tokyo-based group submitted the letter Monday.

"It is an urgent issue (for Japan) to review the system over the death penalty and to suspend executions while the debate over it is going on," the letter says.

"It would be impossible to have calm discussion when executions continue."

No inmates were put to death in 2011, the first 12-month period in 19 years that no one was executed in Japan.

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