[JURIST] New Japanese Minister of Justice Seiken Sugiura [official profile] on Tuesday had to retreat from a statement he made earlier in the day indicating that he would not sign execution orders. Sugiura initially said that he would not sign execution orders due to his opposition to the death penalty, but later said that the comment was an expression of his feelings as an individual and was not made in relation to his future performance as justice minister, adding that he would carry out his responsibilities with "careful consideration." Sugiura was given the post Monday, after the third reshuffling [press release] of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's cabinet. Sugiura's statement fuelled speculation that Japan [JURIST news archive] will change its stance on death penalty, as has been demanded by rights groups. Japan experienced an unofficial moratorium on capital punishment during 1989-1993 when anti-death penalty justice ministers refused to sign execution orders. The Guardian has more. The Japan Times has local coverage.