A woman on death row has died after choking on her food.
The Japan Times reported that the death row inmate Miyuki Ueta had lost consciousness while choking during a meal at the Hiroshima Detention Centre around 4:20 pm.
Staff at the facility tried to remove the food from Ueta’s throat before she was transferred to a local hospital.
She was confirmed dead three hours later.
Bizarrely four days before her death, the former bar worker, who was on multiple medications, was also transferred to hospital after choking on her food.
The 49-year-old was sentenced to execution in 2012 after being convicted for the killing of two men she owed money to a couple of years prior.
Ueta had drugged truck driver Kazumi Yabe, 47, and drowned him in the sea in April 2009, as per News on Japan.
That same year, she drugged and drowned electronics store owner Hideki Maruyama, 57, in October.
This was the second death sentence the presiding judge, Takashi Noguchi, had handed out to a female criminal, the first being Kanae Kijima.
Ueta’s death sentence was finalised in 2017 after a Supreme Court upheld the rulings by the lower courts.
The Supreme Court found that the defendant carried premeditated ‘cruel crimes based on firm intentions to kill’ and she bears ‘grave criminal responsibility.’
The 48-year-old son of Hideki Maruyama told NHK that he was ‘surprised’ by the twist of events.
He told the outlet: “It’s been 14 years since my father died, and I’m surprised that a death row inmate died in this way. Since then, I think it’s been taking too long without being executed.”
“Every day I put my hands on my father at the Buddhist altar in my house, and tonight I’d like to put my hands together and report today.”
Following the death of the murderer, there are currently 105 inmates on death row in Japan.
Capital punishment remains legal in Japan and most parts of Asia; however, in November 2022, three death row prisoners sued the Japanese government to stop hanging as a form of execution.
BBC News reported that the prisoners believe hanging – the only means of execution in the country – is inhumane.
A lawyer for the prisoners, Kyoji Mizutani, said he hopes the lawsuit will spark a national conversation about the future of capital punishment.