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In Rare Move, Japan Hangs a Foreigner

Wei Wei was convicted of the 2003 murders of a family of 4
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 26, 2019 7:30 AM CST
Japan's Minister of Justice Masako Mori speaks at a press conference on the execution of a convict Thursday, Dec. 26, 2019, in Tokyo.   (Kyodo News via AP)

(Newser) – "It was an extremely cold-blooded and cruel case, in which (Wei) killed four innocent members of a happy family," said Japan's justice minister in announcing a rare move: the execution of a foreigner. The AP reports Wei Wei's Thursday death by hanging was the first time a foreigner had been put to death in the country in a decade. The 40-year-old was a Chinese citizen who was convicted of robbing and murdering a clothing store owner, his wife, and their 8- and 11-year-old kids at their Fukuoka home in 2003. Justice Minister Masako Mori said Wei and his two Chinese accomplices weighed the bodies down using weights and disposed of them in the ocean.

Those accomplices were apprehended in China, where one is serving a life sentence. The other was executed in 2005. The BBC reports on how executions are carried out in Japan: Those on death row only learn they will be executed on their day of their death, and Japan only began the practice of publicizing the names of those who are executed in 2007. The country currently has 111 death-row inmates, reports Kyodo News. It and the US are the only countries in the G7 that carry out executions. Mori said she had approved Thursday's execution, the third in Japan in 2019, "after careful consideration." (Read more execution stories.)

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