The Supreme Court on Monday upheld a death sentence for a man convicted of murdering two other Japanese men in Manila in 2014 and 2015, rejecting his appeal to have the ruling overturned.

Toshihiko Iwama, 49, was sentenced to death by the Kofu District Court in 2017 for murdering the two men from Yamanashi Prefecture, central Japan, for insurance payments. The judgment was upheld by the Tokyo High Court in 2019.

Although Iwama had pleaded not guilty, Justice Ryosuke Yasunami said the defendant's actions had been "premeditated and highly self-interested, with a horrendous disregard for human life" and that the sentence was "unavoidable" due to the enormity of his crimes.

According to the top court ruling, Iwama conspired with accomplices, including a man now serving a life sentence, to hire a hitman in the Philippines to kill 32-year-old Shinsuke Toba in 2014 and Tatsuya Nakamura, 42, in 2015.

Both men, fatally shot in Manila, were executives of a firm where Iwama was a large shareholder. Their deaths would have resulted in large insurance payouts for the company.

The 2019 high court ruling upheld the district court's view that because Iwama had masterminded the killings, his "responsibility is of a greater level" than others involved in the crimes.

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