Bill Concerning the Establishment of Research Committees on the Death Penalty System and the Suspension of Execution of Death Sentences (JFBA Bill on Suspension of Executions)
March 13, 2008
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
Full Text (Bill) (PDF:23kB)
1. Outline of the Bill
A research committee on the death penalty system should be established in both the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors for a period of 5 years in order to conduct research on issues related to the death penalty system including whether to retain or abolish it.
The research committees should listen to and obtain an extensive range of public opinions via holding public hearings and consulting with experts, etc. Each research committee should prepare a report on the progress and results of their research and submit the report to the Chairperson of their respective House in the Diet.
Executions should be suspended during the period in which the research committees exist.
2. About the Bill
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) has previously proposed, in its "Recommendations on the Capital Punishment System" (2002) and its resolution at the 47th JFBA Convention on Protection of Human Rights (2004), that a statute should be enacted, in force for a limited period of time, providing that the execution of death sentences should be stayed for the said period of time, so that the issue of whether to retain or abolish the death penalty system could be discussed thoroughly and extensively by the people and any necessary improvements or reforms could be made.
In this regard, the JFBA and its Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Committee drafted the "Bill Concerning the Establishment of Research Committees on the Death Penalty System and the Suspension of Execution of Death Sentences," and held public hearings five times across the country regarding the suspension of the execution of death sentences. In addition, the JFBA twice sought opinions from bar associations and conducted a deliberate study into the issue based on the opinions received.
On May 18, 2007, the UN Committee Against Torture issued a recommendation to the Japanese Government, calling for an immediate moratorium on executions. In addition, the UN General Assembly adopted, on December 18, 2007, a resolution calling for a moratorium on executions to be established in all States that still maintain the death penalty. It can thus be said that there is international demand and pressure for the suspension of the execution of death sentences.
As the JFBA has been pointing out, it is apparent that the death penalty system in Japan has many problems. However, even at the present stage when the Saiban-in (lay judge) system is about to be introduced, a national debate based on a sufficient level of information has not as yet been conducted and executions are still being carried out frequently.
Therefore, the JFBA adopted the "Bill Concerning the Establishment of Research Committees on the Death Penalty System and the Suspension of Execution of Death Sentences," at a meeting of the JFBA Board of Governors on March 13, 2008, aiming to strongly request urgent research and discussion on the death penalty system and the suspension of executions.