A Chinese man was executed on Dec. 26 for his involvement in murdering a family of four and dumping their bodies into the sea in Fukuoka in 2003, the Justice Ministry said.

Wei Wei, 40, a former vocational school student in Japan, was the first person executed under Justice Minister Masako Mori, who assumed the post in October. It was also the first death penalty carried out in Japan since August.

Wei was hanged at the Fukuoka Detention House.

Mori said at a news conference on Dec. 26 that she signed the papers to proceed with the capital punishment on Dec. 23.

“The execution of a final and binding judgment should be strictly carried out in a country ruled by law,” she said. “In particular, death sentences are handed down after careful procedures and should be dealt with carefully while strictly following the law.”

Wei was convicted of murder, burglary and other charges.

According to court rulings, Wei colluded with two other former students from China to burgle the home of Shinjiro Matsumoto in Fukuoka’s Higashi Ward, believing the family was wealthy.

On June 20, 2003, they broke into the home and strangled Matsumoto’s 40-year-old wife, Chika, who was taking a bath, as well as son Kai, 11, and daughter Hina, 8, who were both sleeping.

Shinjiro, a 41-year-old clothing retailer, was choked unconscious when he returned home.

After stealing about 37,000 yen ($338) in cash and other items, the three tossed the four victims into the sea from a pier at Hakata Port, weighing them down with dumbbells.

Shinjiro was still breathing at the time and drowned.

Wei had insisted he played only a minor role in the crime.

But the Fukuoka District Court’s death sentence was upheld by the Fukuoka High Court and finalized by the Supreme Court in October 2011.

Wei’s two accomplices, Yang Ning and Wang Liang, fled to China but were apprehended by authorities there.

Yang was executed in July 2005 for his crimes in Japan, while Wang was sentenced to life in prison by a Chinese court.

According to the Justice Ministry, there are now 112 inmates on death row in Japan.