ADPAN Newsflash – Japan

3 August 2012

ADPAN condemns the execution of Junya Hattori, 40, and Kyozo Matsumura, 31, carried out on 3 August in Japan. These executions are a further setback after Tomoyuki Furusawa, Yasuaki Uwabe and Yasutoshi Matsuda were hanged on 29 March this year – after nearly two years without executions. It is estimated that around 130 people are currently on death row in Japan.

Justice Minister Makoto Taki, who assumed office on 4 June stated on 14 June that he supports the death penalty because it’s on the books for heinous crimes and also explained that introducing the option of life without parole is not currently a priority.

Executions in Japan are carried out by hanging and prisoners are executed without advance notice given to their families and lawyers. The prisoners themselves are only told a few hours before or are occasionally taken straight from their cells to the gallows without any advance notice at all. ADPAN is also concerned that Japan still relies heavily on the daiyo kangoku (substitute prison) system, which allows the police to detain and interrogate a suspect for up to 23 days with very limited access to legal counsel. This puts suspects at great risk of torture and other ill-treatment in order to obtain a “confession” and ensure a conviction – Japan currently has a 99% conviction rate.

ADPAN opposes the death penalty in all cases, and calls upon the Japanese government to place an immediate moratorium on all executions, to commute all death sentences and to work toward full abolition of the death penalty for all crimes.

Out of the 41 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, 17 have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, one has abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes and 10 are considered abolitionist in practice, with Mongolia being the most recent country in the region to abolish the death penalty by ratifying the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

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