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Japan executes pair on death row

Masakatsu Nishikawa
Masakatsu Nishikawa

TOKYO (TR) – Japan’s Ministry of Justice on Thursday announced the execution of two male convicts on death row, reports the Sankei Shimbun (July 13).

According to the ministry, Masakatsu Nishikawa, 61, who murdered four female managers of hostess clubs in 1991, and Koichi Sumita, 34, were both executed by hanging. Justice Minister Katsutoshi Kaneda ordered the executions.

Between December 13 and 28, 1991, Nishikawa killed the four women — Kyo Harada (55), Noriko Murakami (51), both from Kyoto, Kumiko Masaki (45), from Hyogo Prefecture, and Fumiko Takahashi (55), from Shimane Prefecture — by strangulation or stabbing. He also robbed the victims of more than 200,000 yen in cash.

The following month, Nishikawa attempted to strangle Ayame Katsura, a 37-year-old rakugo storyteller, to death inside her residence in Osaka.

On September 30, 2011, Sumita raped Misa Kato, 27, inside a warehouse of a company where she was employed. He then stabbed her about 10 times. Sumita, who formerly worked with Kato, then drove a vehicle containing her corpse to a garage in Osaka’s Sumiyoshi Ward where it was dismembered and dumped at a garbage site and in a river.

Abe administration

There have been a total of 19 executions under the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which began in December of 2012. In November of last year, Kenichi Tajiri was hanged for killing two women in Kumamoto Prefecture in the most recent execution before Thursday.