Statement on Executions of Death Penalty
Today, the death sentences were executed upon 4 inmates whose death sentences had been finalized, two at the Tokyo Detention House, one at the Osaka Detention House, and one at the Hiroshima Detention House.
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) has repeatedly requested the Ministry of Justice to suspend executions until the national debate over retention or abolition of the death penalty is exhausted. On December 13, 2006, the JFBA requested Mr. Jinen Nagase, the Minister of Justice, not to execute 96 inmates whose death sentences had been finalized. It is truly regrettable that the government has carried out the death sentences despite the JFBA’s request.
Regarding the death penalty, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights aiming at the abolition of the death penalty on December 15 1989, which entered into force in 1991. Every year since April 1997, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (reorganized into the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2006) adopted resolutions on the abolition of the death penalty calling upon all States that have not yet abolished the death penalty such as Japan to observe the UN Safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty and to consider suspending executions, with a view to completely abolishing the death penalty.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee established under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights made recommendations to the Japanese government twice in November 1993 and November 1998 that the government take measures towards the abolition of the death penalty and improve the treatment of inmates on death row.
Furthermore, on June 26, 2001, the Council of Europe adopted a resolution encouraging Japan and the United States to suspend executions of the death penalty and to immediately consider steps towards the abolition of the death penalty. On June 13, 2002, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on abolition of the death penalty in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan requesting immediate abolition of the death penalty or suspension of executions.
Under these international trends towards the abolition of the death penalty, the JFBA issued recommendations on the death penalty system in November 2002, propounding the enactment of temporary legislation (the Death Penalty Suspension Act) to suspend executions of death sentences until the national debate over retention or abolition of the death penalty is exhausted and necessary improvement of the death penalty system is made.
In addition, at the 47th JFBA Convention on Protection of Human Rights in 2004, the JFBA adopted a resolution requesting establishment of the Capital Punishment Suspension Act, disclosure of information on the capital punishment system and establishment of a committee within the government to research issues on the capital punishment and urged to suspend executions.
The JFBA urges the government to openly disclose the information on the death penalty system. It also strongly urges again to suspend executions for a certain period so that the issue of whether to retain or abolish the death penalty might be discussed thoroughly and extensively by the people and necessary improvement might be made on it.
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
December 25, 2006