Photo/IllutrationJustice Minister Masako Mori announces the execution of a death-row inmate in December. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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Although the global trend is toward abolishing capital punishment, the ratio of Japanese who find the death penalty “unavoidable” remains high, edging up to 80.8 percent in the latest survey.

The figure for those opposing the death penalty dropped to 9.0 percent.

Japan carried out three executions in 2019 and 15 in 2018.

The results of the survey, released Jan. 17 by the Cabinet Office, showed that 56.6 percent of those who approve of capital punishment cited "the feelings of victims and their relatives” as a reason.

It was followed by “perpetrators of heinous crimes should atone with their own lives,” at 53.6 percent, and “perpetrators of heinous crimes continue to pose a risk of committing similar crimes if they are allowed to live,” at 47.4 percent.

The finding marked the fourth survey in a row that found more than 80 percent in favor of executions.

The survey on the death penalty marked the sixth by the Cabinet Office since 1994.

In the face-to-face poll, conducted every five years, respondents were allowed to pick more than one from a set of answers. Those answers remained almost identical in each survey.

The latest poll, conducted in November, contacted 3,000 males and females across Japan age 18 or older. Valid responses were received from 1,572, or 52.4 percent of the total.

The previous polls involved adults 20 years or older.

The 80.8 percent supporting the death penalty represented an increase of 0.5 percentage point from the previous survey in 2014.

The 9.0 percent opposing capital punishment marked a drop of 0.7 point from the last survey.

Opponents of the death penalty cited that “it is irreparable if a court ruling was flawed,” at 50.7 percent, up by 4.1 points from the 2014 survey.

The next most common response was “convicts should be allowed to live to atone for their crimes,” which was cited by 42.3 percent.

The survey found that a majority of respondents view capital punishment as an effective crime deterrent.

It showed that 58.3 percent said the abolition of the death penalty would lead to an increase in heinous crimes.

The three inmates executed in 2019 marked the eighth consecutive year that Japan has carried out the death penalty.

Thirteen Aum Shinrikyo cultists sentenced to death on a range of crimes involving the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system and other multiple murders were hanged in July 2018.