In the first such decision against a top member of Japanese Yakuza criminal syndicate, a man was recently sentenced to death by hanging.

Satoru Nomura, 74, the head of the Kudo-kai in Kita-Kyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture, was found guilty of ordering four assaults, one of which resulted in death, by a Fukuoka court. Nomura has categorically denied any involvement.

Judge Ben Adachi also jailed Nomura's second-in-command, Fumio Tanoue, 65, for life, Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper said.

Nomura allegedly threatened the judge saying, "I asked for a fair decision but this is not fair at all. You will regret this for the rest of your life."

The sentence will be appealed to by the Japanese don.

The court ruling, per Al Jazeera, claimed Nomura and Tanoue allegedly conspired to carry out four attacks. Nomura “gave an order in the murder case and the other three crimes were carried out under a chain-in-command structure”.

According to local accounts, those responsible for the attacks have already been convicted.

The first of the four assaults occurred in 1998, the Asahi Shimbun reports: "A former leader of a local fishery cooperative was shot on the streets of Kita-Kyushu. The second occurred in 2012 – a former Fukuoka prefectural police officer was shot in Kita-Kyushu. The third occurred in 2013 in Fukuoka, in which a female nurse at a clinic where Nomura was seeking treatment was stabbed."

The fourth incident occurred in Kita-Kyushu in 2014, when a male dentist, who happened to be a relative of the former fishery cooperative head, was stabbed.

Nomura's conduct was described by the judge as "extremely vicious."

The prosecutors underscored that Nomura "deserved the harshest sentence because none of the victims in the four incidents had connections to rival gangs." They said: “Ordinary citizens became a target in all incidents, repeatedly posing a direct threat to society.

“These incidents were unprecedented in the extremely egregious nature of the crimes carried out by organized gangs.”

On the other hand, the defense claimed that Nomura had no motivation to attack in any of the four cases. He also told the court that he is innocent.

With over 100 people on death row, Japan is one of the few affluent countries still using the death sentence. Convicts are hanged to death.

ABC News, citing Amnesty International, said killings in Japan are "shrouded in secrecy." Inmates often have a few hours' notice, and some receiving no warning at all until their death sentences are carried out.

In 2018 and 2019, Japan handed out 18 executions.

In 2020, however, no executions were carried out for the first time since 2011.

Death by Hanging
A man allegedly killed himself after his girlfriend cheated on him in Dungarpur district, Rajasthan, India on Monday, Aug. 8. This is a representational image. Pixabay photo | ArtWithTammy

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