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Anger at Japanese execution

THERE CAN be no such thing as a good hanging, but by any standard the death of Teruo Ono was particularly cruel.

The earliest he heard about his imminent death was probably early yesterday, shortly before he was led out of his cell in Fukuoka Detention House.

Japanese executions - there are about half a dozen a year - are secret, with no independent witness, no family member and no press observer present. Until last year, the Justice Ministry did not even acknowledge that such things had taken place.

Ono was executed for the murder of a woman in 1977. He protested his innocence. What has shocked politicians and activists is that he was applying for a retrial after claiming irregularities in court documents.