Japan's Minister of Justice Yoshihisa Furukawa speaks during a press conference on the execution of Tomohiro Kato, convicted of killing seven people at Tokyo's Akihabara electronics shops district in 2008, in Tokyo on July 26, 2022. (Photo by JIJI PRESS / AFP) / Japan OUT

A man who killed seven people in a 2008 shooting spree in the capital Tokyo has been executed in Japan. Justice Minister Yoshihisa Furukawa on Tuesday confirmed the country’s first execution this year. He approved the execution of the death sentence after “extremely careful consideration”.

Tomohiro Kato, who has now been executed, drove a truck into a crowd on June 8, 2008 in the Akihabara district. Then the then 25-year-old stabbed passers-by indiscriminately. He killed seven people and injured ten others before being arrested.

After his arrest, he told the police: “I came to Akihabara to kill people. It didn’t matter who I killed.” He had previously announced his actions on the Internet, complaining about his loneliness and his unstable job. He apologized in court for the crime. Kato was sentenced to death in 2011, but the country’s Supreme Court upheld the sentence in 2015.

Japan is one of the few industrial nations that still retains the death penalty. Its abolition was “not appropriate,” Justice Minister Furukawa said on Tuesday. “Horrible crimes like mass killings and robbery are still a regular occurrence,” he said.

After a two-year hiatus, three convicted murderers were hanged in December. These were the first executions under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Executions in Japan are carried out by hanging, usually many years after the conviction – and sometimes only a few hours after the inmates have been informed of the forthcoming execution. There are currently more than 100 inmates on death row in Japan.