Japan executes man who killed seven in Tokyo street rampage
Japan on Tuesday executed a man who killed seven people in a vehicle crash and stabbing rampage in a crowded Tokyo shopping district in 2008. Justice minister Yoshihisa Furukawa told reporters that Tomohiro Kato was hanged at the Tokyo detention centre earlier on Tuesday.
Japan has maintained the death penalty despite growing international criticism. Furukawa said capital punishment was a justified response to continuing heinous and violent crime and scrapping it wasn’t appropriate at this point. Furukawa said Kato had thoroughly prepared to commit the mass killings — “an atrocious act that led to extremely serious consequences and had a major impact on society”.
In the attack, Kato drove down his truck on a street in the Akihabara electronics shopping area, slamming into a crowd of people and killing three pedestrians in June 2008. He then got out of the vehicle and stabbed four people to death.
He injured or wounded 10 others. Surveillance footage aired by national broadcaster NHK afterwards showed Kato buying hunting knives two days before the attack, laughing with a store worker and at times making stabbing motions with his hands. Media reports also said he had posted on Internet message boards several despondent messages and warnings that he was planning to kill people. Kato, 39, was sentenced to death in 2011 by the Tokyo District Court.