Japan executes prisoner who killed 7 people in Tokyo.

TOKYO (AP) — Japan on Tuesday executed a man who killed seven people in a 2008 car crash and stabbing rampage in a busy Tokyo shopping district.

Tomohiro Kato was executed early Tuesday at a Tokyo detention center, Justice Minister Yoshihisa Furukawa told reporters.

Japan has retained the death penalty despite growing international criticism. Furukawa said the death penalty was a legitimate response to continuing heinous and violent crime and not appropriate at this time.

Furukawa said that Kato had fully prepared to commit a mass massacre – “a cruel act that had very serious consequences and had a great impact on society.”

In the attack, Kato drove his truck onto a street in the Akihabara electronics shopping area, plowed into a crowd of people and killed three pedestrians in June 2008. He then got out of the car and stabbed four people to death. He injured or injured 10 people.

Surveillance footage later broadcast by national broadcaster NHK showed Kato shopping for hunting knives, laughing with a store worker and occasionally making stabbing motions with his hands two days before the attack. Is. Media reports also state that he posted several desperate messages and warnings on Internet message boards that he was planning to kill people in a mass attack.

Kato, 39, was sentenced to death by the Tokyo District Court in 2011 and the Supreme Court rejected his appeal in 2015.

Furukawa denied Tuesday’s execution was linked to the shooting death of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier this month, which shocked a nation known for strict gun control and a low crime rate. .

Tuesday’s execution was the second under the government of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who took office in October.

Furukawa said there are now 107 people on death row in Japan, 61 of whom are seeking retrials.

Japan and the United States are the only two countries in the Group of Seven developed countries that retain the death penalty. A Japanese government poll showed that an overwhelming majority of the public supported the execution.

Executions are carried out in great secrecy in Japan, where prisoners are not informed of their fate until the morning they are executed. Since 2007, Japan has begun releasing the names of those sentenced to death and some details of their crimes, but disclosures are still limited.

Three prisoner Executed in 2021.

In 2018, Japan executed 15 people, including its guru. Aum Shinrikyo Cult And 12 former followers were convicted of a sarin gas attack on a Tokyo subway that killed 13 people and sickened thousands.