BEIJING — China executed a Japanese man for drug smuggling, the country’s top court announced yesterday, the first execution of a Japanese citizen since the countries established relations in 1972.
The Supreme People’s Court said Mitsunobu Akano was executed in Liaoning Province after being convicted of trying to smuggle drugs from China, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
It gave no other details. Japanese media reports said that Akano was 65 and that three other Japanese men are on death row in China for drug smuggling. Calls to the Supreme Court and to the High Court in Liaoning were not answered yesterday.
Jiang Yu, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said the execution will deter drug smuggling.
Japan’s prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, told reporters that the execution was “regrettable.’’
“As the government, we need to make efforts not to allow this to trigger a rift in Japan-China relations, and I would like the people to do the same,’’ Hatoyama said.
Mizuho Fukushima, a Cabinet member of the Hatoyama government, said afterward: “I am extremely shocked. Of course, drug crimes are serious, but in Japan people don’t get the death penalty for those.’’