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A Call To End A Secret, Arbitrary And Cruel Practice – Death Penalty In Japan
A little known fact about Japan is that it carries out the death penalty. Executions in Japan are by hanging and are carried out in secret. Prisoners face the fear of execution every day. They are only informed of their execution a few hours before the sentence is carried out. Prisoners are held in solitary confinement and have very limited access to the outside world, as a result many inmates develop mental disorders. Families of prisoners are informed of their loved ones’ execution only after it has taken place.

AI has received reports that at least eight of the 61 current death row inmates in Japan may be innocent. Forced confessions extracted through torture during pre-trial detention, prosecutorial misconduct and cases of mistaken evidence and identification mean that death-row inmates can be wrongly convicted.

Hakamada Iwao (m), (aged 68), claims that he was beaten and forced to confess to murdering four people. Hakamada has consistently maintained that during interrogation he was denied food and water; refused access to a toilet; was kicked and punched; his arms and ears were twisted, he was dragged by the hair; subjected to sleep deprivation and denied access to medicine and medical treatment. Hakamada suffers from severe mental illness after spending over 38 years in detention. He is unable to recognize his sister or to understand that he is on death row. His application for a re-trial was rejected this year, despite high expectation that his innocence would be revealed at re-trial.

"I could do nothing but crouch down on the floor trying to keep from defecating. At that moment one of the interrogators put my thumb onto an inkpad, drew it to a written confession record and ordered me, write your name here!, shouting at me, kicking me and wrenching my arm.”

Hakamada Iwao, death-row inmate, taken from a letter to his sister.

Amnesty International believes that the death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment that violates the right to life. It is irrevocable and can be inflicted on the innocent.

Studies reveal that the death penalty is ineffective as a tool to curb serious crime. In Japan there was no increase in crime during the three years when executions were not carried out: between November 1989 and March 1993 two Japanese Ministers of Justice declined to sign execution orders because of their personal opposition to the death penalty. Executions recommenced in March 1993, the most recent occurring in September 2004 when two inmates were hanged.

The global trend towards the abolition of the death penalty now makes Japan one of only two “Group of Eight” major industrialised countries to retain this inhuman and degrading punishment (the other is the USA). Japan has been heavily criticised for imposing the death penalty by the Council of Europe, where Japan has Observer Status. By imposing the death penalty, particularly due to the way it is imposed and carried out in Japan, Japan has violated international treaties to which it is state party, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Write to:

    Mr MACHIMURA Nobutaka
    Minister of Foreign Affairs
    Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    2-2-1 Kasumigaseki
    Chiyoda-ku
    Tokyo 100-8919
    Japan

    (Salutation: Dear Minister)
    Fax No: + 81 3 6402 2796 (General Administration Unit)
    e-mail: webmaster@mofa.go.jp

    Ms NOONO Chieko
    Minister of Justice
    Ministry of Justice
    1-1-1 Kasumigaseki
    Chiyoda-ku
    Tokyo 100-8977
    Japan

    (Salutation: Dear Minister)
    Fax No: +81 3 3592-7088 OR 5511 7200
    e-mail: webmaster@moj.go.jp

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All information is © Copyright 1997 - 2005 'Foreign Prisoner Support Service' unless stated otherwise - Click here for the legal stuff