Statement Protesting the Resumption of Executions, and Requesting the Launch of a Nationwide Debate on the Abolition of the Death Penalty and Suspension of Executions
Two inmates were executed today, one each at the Tokyo Detention House and the Osaka Detention House. These executions are deeply regrettable and the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (“JFBA”) strongly protests the resumption of executions.
By submitting 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. Makoto Taki on June 18, 2012, the JFBA requested again that the State 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. However, Mr. Toshio Ogawa, the Minister of Justice at that time, ended the “Ministry of Justice Study Group on the Death Penalty” in March 2012, and following that, he gave a go-ahead to the execution of three death-row inmates on March 29, 2012 for the first time in one year and eight months.
After these executions were carried out, it was reported that a discussion was launched by three political executives, the Minister, Senior Vice Minister, and Parliamentary Secretary, mainly concerning whether the current execution method carried out in Japan—hanging—is the appropriate method, and so on. However, how such discussion was developed was not made public at all, and the situation remains the same since Mr. Ogawa’s successor, Mr. Makoto Taki assumed the post on June 4, 2012. Mr. Taki stated that he would take responsibility as the Minister of Justice, scrutinizing individual cases cautiously, voicing his view on leaning toward execution.
However, executions should not be carried out without exhausting a nationwide discussion concerning executions, and let alone without disclosing the contents of the discussion within the government concerning the death penalty. Therefore, 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.
August 3, 2012
Japan Federation of Bar Associations