Statement on the Execution of the Death Penalty against Japanese Citizens by the Chinese Government
On October 20, 2016, the Chinese government executed a Japanese man who was sentenced to death for his involvement in the smuggling of drugs. This was the seventh time that executions of Japanese citizens have been carried out, with four persons executed in April 2010, one on July 25, 2014, and one on June 23, 2015.
The death penalty is an ultimate and irreversible punishment that takes away human lives. Obviously, it cannot be undone even in the event of a mistaken decision. As long as the death penalty exists, the risk of executing the innocent can never be eliminated because the decision to impose the death penalty is made by humans. For this reason, the JFBA adopted its Declaration Calling for Reform of the Penal System Including Abolition of the Death Penalty at the 59th JFBA Convention on the Protection of Human Rights held on October 7, 2016, in which the JFBA declared that the abolishment of the death penalty system should be aimed at being achieved before the next UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice which is due to be held in Japan in 2020.
The death penalty is now a transnational human-rights issue. While advocating that the death penalty should be abolished, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (the "ICCPR") states that, even in the case where the death penalty is retained, the death penalty may be imposed only for the most serious crimes (Article 6 Paragraph.2). In addition, the UN Human Rights Committee has repeatedly expressed its viewpoint that crimes which do not result in a person’s death, such as drug-related offences, do not constitute a "most serious crime." Further, the UN Human Rights Committee also expressed its concerns to the Japanese government on July 24, 2014 that some of the 19 crimes which are subject to the death penalty did not satisfy the requirement in the ICCPR that the death penalty may be imposed only for the most serious crimes.
Accordingly, the JFBA calls on the Japanese government to immediately consider each reform proposal placed in the above Declaration Calling for Reform of the Penal System Including Abolition of the Death Penalty, and to take appropriate domestic and international actions in compliance with applicable international human rights standards including the ICCPR.
November 10, 2016
Japan Federation of Bar Associations