Dec. 26 (UPI) -- Japan executed a Chinese death row inmate by hanging Thursday for the murders of a family of four committed during a 2003 burglary -- carrying out its first death sentence in four months.
Japanese Justice Minister Masako Mori said Wei Wei, 40, was hanged for the slayings of clothing dealer Shinjiro Matsumoto, 41, his wife, Chika, 40, their son, Kai, 11, and daughter, Hina, 8, on June 20, 2003, in Fukuoka Prefecture.
Wei became the third prisoner executed in Japan this year and the first since Mori took office in October. The execution was the 39th under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe since 2012. Another 111 prisoners remain on Japan's death row.
"For a self-serving purpose, the convict killed all the family members," Mori said. "This is an extremely ruthless crime. We regarded very seriously the killing of four innocent people."
Prosecutors said Wei and two Chinese colleagues, who had entered Japan on student visas, killed the family during a burglary of their home, stole valuables and dumped the four victims in the seaport of Hakata, attaching weights to submerge the bodies.
Wei's accomplices fled to China after the crime. One was executed by Chinese authorities in 2005 while the other is serving a life sentence.
Amnesty International Japan denounced Wei's execution, calling it "a shameful black mark on Japan's human rights record" just seven months before Tokyo hosts the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
"More than 100 countries worldwide have completely abolished the death penalty, while Japan persists with this barbaric punishment," the group said.