Statement Calling Once Again to Abolish the Death Penalty in Japan on the Occasion of the Announcement of a Moratorium on U.S. Federal Executions
On July 1, 2021, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memorandum imposing a moratorium on federal executions.
In the United States, while state-level executions are being performed even now in a small set of states, no federal executions had been carried out for almost 20 years. However, the Trump administration amended the statutes related to the federal execution and oversaw the execution of a total of 13 death row inmates in accordance with the amended rules during six months from July 2019 through immediately before the end of the President’s term in January 2021. As to the mass execution, criticism was mounting in the United States.
Meanwhile, during his election campaign, President Biden promised a moratorium on federal executions. The Attorney General’s memorandum issued at this time set out that the rules amended during the former President’s administration are to be reviewed and that a moratorium shall be imposed on federal executions while the review process is ongoing.
Ever since adopting the Declaration Calling for Reform of the Penal System Including Abolition of the Death Penalty at its Convention on the Protection of Human Rights in 2016, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (the “JFBA”) has been endeavoring to abolish the death penalty, reiterating on many occasions the diverse issues embedded in capital punishment. Among the 38 OECD member states, Japan and the U.S. (some states) are the only nation states that are carrying out the death penalty even now. The Human Rights Committee and other human rights monitoring bodies of the United Nations have made recommendations repeatedly that Japan consider abolishing the death penalty favorably, regardless of the outcome of the recent poll taken in the country backing it. Thus, abolishing the death penalty is a global trend, in which maintaining the system in Japan is no longer tolerated.
Moratoriums on executions are often issued during the process of achieving the abolishment of the death penalty. The JFBA welcomes the issuance of the memorandum this time and calls once again on the Japanese government to advance concrete initiatives to abolish the death penalty.
July 16, 2021
President, Japan Federation of Bar Associations