DALIAN, China, April 5 (UPI) -- A Japanese man is to be executed in China Tuesday, one day after being convicted of smuggling drugs, a source told the Kyodo news service in Japan.
Kyodo reported family members of death row inmate Mitsunobu Akano, 65, met with him at a detention facility in Dalian before he was found guilty of trying to smuggle 5.5 pounds of stimulants from China to Japan with an accomplice in 2006.
If Akano is put to death, it will be China's first execution of a Japanese national since the two nations normalized diplomatic relations 38 years ago.
Besides Akano, Kyodo said, China has informed Japan it also will execute three Japanese convicted in other drug-smuggling cases as early as Thursday.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has asked Japanese officials to accept his country's decision to execute the four drug traffickers because of the seriousness of their crimes under Chinese law, but Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has called the decision "quite regrettable.'