EU Voices Regret Over Resumption Of Executions In Japan

The European Union on Thursday expressed regrets over the execution of three death-row inmates in Japan earlier in the day, noting that they were the first in the Asian country after a gap of nearly 20 months.

"The EU deeply regrets the execution of Yasuaki Uwabe, Tomoyuki Furusawa and Yasutoshi Matsuda on 29 March 2012, and the fact that this marks the resumption of executions in Japan after twenty months during which none took place," a statement issued by the office of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Thursday.

The statement reiterated European Union's continued opposition to the use of capital punishment in all cases and under all circumstances and said that the bloc has consistently called for its universal abolition.

"The EU believes that the death penalty is cruel and inhuman and that its abolition is essential to protect human dignity," the statement said, noting that Japan and the EU have been close partners in addressing a wide range of human rights concerns around the world.

"The EU has on a number of occasions called on the Japanese authorities for a moratorium on the application of the death penalty, pending its complete legal abolition. This would bring Japan into line with the worldwide trend away from the death penalty. More than two-thirds of countries around the world have formally abolished or ceased to apply the death penalty, as called for by the UN General Assembly," the statement added.

The EU response came hours after Japan executed the three death-row inmates by hanging on Thursday at prisons in Tokyo, Hiroshima and Fukuoka. They included Yasuaki Uwabe, who was convicted of killing five people at a train station in 1999.

It was the first executions carried out in Japan since July 2010. Notably, the country had not executed any of its 132 death-row inmates in 2011, making it the first year to pass without executions in Japan for 19 years.

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