Statement Protesting the Resumption of Executions, and Requesting for the Launch of a Nationwide Debate on the Abolition of the Death Penalty and Suspension of Executions
Three inmates were executed today, one each at the Tokyo Detention House, the Hiroshima Detention House, and the Fukuoka Detention House. These executions are deeply regrettable and the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (“JFBA”) strongly protests the resumption of executions.
The JFBA submitted the “Request for the Launch of a Nationwide Debate on the Abolition of the Death Penalty” to the Prime Minister, Mr. Yoshihiko Noda, on February 24, 2012, and also submitted the “Request for the Launch of a Nationwide Debate on the Abolition of the Death Penalty, Suspension of Executions, and Taking Immediate Measures to Prevent Miscarriages of Justice Leading to the Death Penalty” to the Minister of Justice, Mr. Toshio Ogawa on February 27, 2012. So the JFBA has just requested the State to immediately initiate a nationwide debate on the abolition of the death penalty and suspend any executions in the meantime.
The international trend has been leaning towards the abolishment of the death penalty, and the Japanese government has been repeatedly warned from United Nations-related institutions that it should suspend executions, and take immediate measures for the abolishment of the death penalty. Further, in February 2012, the European Parliament adopted a resolution in which it called on the Minister of Justice, Mr. Toshio Ogawa by name, not to approve any execution order. Despite such movement, the State resumed executions without initiating any public debate about the matter, for which it has not even established any policy. Further, it has not provided any related information which should serve as a basis for a public debate either.
Recently, the work of the “Ministry of Justice Study Group on the Death Penalty” carried out within the Ministry of Justice was completed and its report was made public. However, this report cannot be considered as a fruit of public debate throughout the entire society. Rather, we must say that executions of the three inmates might block such debate.
Upon suspending all implementation of the death penalty, the Japanese government should play a leading role in order to initiate a nationwide debate about the abolishment of the death penalty, by disclosing information concerning the death penalty to the general public, setting up a study panel to conduct research on capital punishment at the Diet, and establishing an advisory committee at the Ministry of Justice, etc.
As stated above, on this occasion, the JFBA hereby vigorously protests the resumption of executions as well as reiterates its request that the State immediately initiate a nationwide debate on the abolition of the death penalty and introduce a moratorium on executions.
March 29, 2012
Japan Federation of Bar Associations