Serial child-killer hanged as Japan steps up death penalty

ONE of Japan's most notorious serial killers, who murdered and mutilated four little girls and reportedly drank the blood of one of them, was hanged yesterday.

Tsutomu Miyazaki, 45, killed the girls, aged four to seven, in the late 1980s. He burned one victim's body and left her bones on her parents' doorstep. Japanese newspaper reports said he ate part of the hand of another girl and drank her blood.

Miyazaki was one of three men hanged yesterday – the others were Shinji Mutsuda, 45, who was convicted of murdering and robbing two people, and Yoshio Yamasaki, 73, who was convicted of killing two people for insurance money.

That took the number of executions in Japan to 13 in only six months, as a pro-death-penalty justice minister and rising fears over violent crime – such as the recent deaths of seven people in a stabbing rampage in Tokyo – have combined to boost acceptance of capital punishment.

In contrast, only one inmate was executed in all of 2005.