Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has defended the country’s use of the death penalty, days after three death-row inmates were hanged. Thursday’s executions were Japan’s first since July 2010. (Related News)
Questioning the death penalty in Japan (Al Jazeera, Aug 31, 2011):
There are 120 people currently on death row in Japan, with polls showing capital punishment is supported by more than 80 per cent of the population. However, some in the country have reservations and object to the practice on moral grounds. Japan has recently begun a debate on whether to abolish the law, with a small group of politicians planning to raise the issue in parliament. But with the wide majority of views still in favour of the death penalty, many doubt that the law will be changed. Al Jazeera’s Steve Chao reports from Nagoya.
Japan opens up death chamber to media :
Japan has opened up its death chamber to local media for the first time, as part of an attempt by the justice minister to stoke debate about the death penalty. Justice Minister Keiko Chiba has called for more disclosure and discussion on executions in light of a lay judge system introduced last year. The new system allows ordinary citizens, along with professional judges, to hand down death sentences.
Japan Hirohito Becomes a Constitutional Monarch after WWII defeat as Public Hanging of former war criminals continue :
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has defended the country’s use of the death penalty, days after three death-row inmates were hanged.
“I have no plans to do away with the death penalty,” Mr Noda said, according to the Kyodo news agency.
Thursday’s executions were Japan’s first since July 2010.
Japan is one of the few advanced industrialised nations to retain the death penalty. It is usually reserved for multiple murders.
“Taking into consideration a situation where the number of heinous crimes has not decreased, I find it difficult to abolish the death penalty immediately,” Mr Noda said.
“We must carefully weigh the nature of the death penalty from various standpoints, while giving sufficient attention to public opinion,” he continued, pointing out that in 2009, 85.6% of those polled in a government survey supported the measure.
Reports on Thursday said that the unnamed prisoners, hanged in separate prisons, had all been convicted of multiple murders.
There are currently more than 100 people on death row, including Shoko Asahara, the mastermind behind the 1995 sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway. No executions were carried out in 2011.
Human rights groups say Japan’s death row is particularly harsh.
Amnesty International has called for it to be abolished, saying the condemned have few visits, little exercise and are forced to spend almost all of their time sitting down in their cells.
Sometimes held for decades, they are not warned in advance of when they will be put to death, meaning they fear every day is their last, the BBC’s Roland Buerk reports.