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HOME > Public Statements and Opinion Papers > Opinion Papers > Basic Propositions on Abolition of the Death Penalty and on Introducing Alternative Punishment and Instituting a Judicial Proceeding System for Commutation

Basic Propositions on Abolition of the Death Penalty and on Introducing Alternative Punishment and Instituting a Judicial Proceeding System for Commutation

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  October 15, 2019

Japan Federation of Bar Associations

 

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) prepared its “Basic Propositions on Abolition of the Death Penalty and on Introducing Alternative Punishment and Instituting a Judicial Proceeding System for Commutation” on October 15, 2019, and submitted it to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the President of the House of Councilors on October 25, 2019.


Summary of the Opinion

  1. Basic propositions for abolishing the death penalty:
    The JFBA aspires to achieve the following goals:
    • - Eliminating “the death penalty” from the Categories of Punishments set forth in Article 9 of the Penal Code
    • - Removing Article 11, which specifies the method of the capital punishment, from the Penal Code
    • - Eliminating “the death penalty” as a category of punishment for crimes stipulated in all laws including the Penal Code
    • - Eliminating or amending the regulations pertaining to the death penalty stipulated in any and all pertinent laws


  2. Basic propositions for introducing alternative punishment in favor of the death penalty:
    Should the death penalty be abolished as a category of punishment, the JFBA aims to introduce the sentence of life incarceration without the possibility of parole as a new maximum punishment in place of the death penalty. Thereby, this would be applied to those who have previously been sentenced to death at the point in time the death penalty system was abolished, as well as to any crimes committed thereafter which are deemed eligible for the death penalty.


  3. Basic propositions for instituting a judicial proceeding system for commutation:
    The JFBA aims to establish a judicial proceeding system wherein a change of punishment, from life incarceration without the possibility of parole to an indefinite life sentence with the possibility of parole (hereinafter called “commutation”), could be granted in exceptional circumstances.


  4. Primary items for consideration pertaining to the details of the judicial proceeding system for commutation:
    • (1) The form of the judicial proceeding system for commutation in the legal structure
    • (2) The agency(-ies) that govern(s) the judicial proceeding system for commutation
    • (3) The jurisdiction of courts and the structure of the judicial body
      • (i) Subject matter jurisdiction
      • (ii) Territorial jurisdiction
      • (iii) Structure of the judicial body
    • (4) Individuals who are eligible to file a petition for commutation of sentence
    • (5) Criteria for filing a petition for commutation of sentence
      • (i) Term requirements (minimum period of incarceration before filing a commutation petition)
      • (ii) Eligibility requirements (ineligible cases)
    • (6) Mode of court sessions and type of adjudication
      • (i) Mode of court sessions
      • (ii) Type of adjudication
    • (7) Provisions concerning filing of materials pertaining to the elements considered in judgement on commutation
      • (i) Methodology for filing material to assess the status of improvement/rehabilitation achieved by the life inmate
      • (ii) Right of the bereaved to make a statement of opinion
    • (8) Advocate(s)
    • (9) Appeal against pronouncements