Monday, December 31, 2012

Japan: Death row inmates want prior notice of execution, prefer lethal injection

Execution chamber
at Tokyo Detention Center
A survey conducted by Mizuho Fukushima, deputy chairwoman of the nonpartisan Parliamentary League for the Abolition of the Death Penalty of Japanese death row inmates show that more than 50% of respondents prefer to know ahead of time when their execution will be carried out. The majority also wants the government to review the current method of execution.

The survey covered 133 people on death row, with 78 replying to the questions. 51 said that they wanted advanced notice, to be able to prepare themselves mentally and some to get the chance to say goodbye to their loved ones. More than half also want a review of the current method of execution, which is hanging. 25 of the respondents said they prefer death by lethal injection.

Japan is one of two major industrialized economies (the other being the United States) that still carries out capital punishment. But Japan is unique in the fact that a death row inmate can languish for years in solitary confinement without knowing when the punishment will be carried out. They are only told of their impending death a few hours before execution, a fact that has been protested by international human rights organizations.

Just last December 20, 111 countries voted for a moratorium on capital punishment at a UN General Assembly human rights meeting. Japan was one of 41 nations that voted against the motion, including China, Iran, North Korea and the US. Capital punishment has enjoyed public support, despite repeated protests from European governments and human rights groups.

Source: The Japan Daily Press, December 31, 2012