Japan resumed its use of capital punishment after a 20-month break [AFP]

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has strongly condemned the execution of three convicted murderers by Japan.

A government minister in Tokyo signed the death warrants for the multiple murderers on Thursday, resuming the country's use of capital punishment after a 20-month break.

Yasuaki Uwabe, Tomoyuki Furusawa and Yasutoshi Matsuda went to the gallows on the orders of the justice minister, who said he was performing his job and acting in line with public opinion, which overwhelmingly supports the death penalty.

Speaking from the Council of Europe’s headquarters in Strasbourg, Jean-Claude Mignon, PACE's president, said : "This barbaric practice has no place in a civilised society.

"This is why I yet again call on the Japanese authorities to introduce an immediate moratorium on executions, which would be a first step towards abolition.

"We expect Japan, as a country enjoying observer status with the Council of Europe, to share our values and fundamental principles."

The council is an international organisation promoting co-operation between its members in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation.

The death penalty is not carried out in any of the other 46 member states of the council.

Mignon said: "In April last year, the assembly again urged Japan to join the growing consensus among those democratic countries which have done away with capital punishment so as to protect human rights and human dignity.

"These executions show that Japan has decided to ignore our request and defy the international community by continuing to swim against the tide of the worldwide abolition trend."

Source: Agencies