27 September 2012
The Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) condemns the executions of Yukinori Matsuda, 35 and Sachiko Eto, 65 carried out on Thursday 27 September.
Yukinori Matsuda was hanged in Fukoka Detention Centre. Sachiko Eto was hanged in Sendai Detention Centre. She was sentenced to death for murder and involuntary manslaughter in 2002. Sachiko Eto is the first woman to be executed since 1997 and the fourth woman to be executed since 1945.
These executions are a further setback after 3 people were executed on 29 March and 2 people were executed on 3 August after nearly two years without executions. For the first time in nineteen years no executions were recorded in 2011.
Justice Minister Makoto Taki has stated that he supports the death penalty because it’s on the books for heinous crimes. This is the fourth execution he has authorised since assuming office 4 months ago in June.
Matsuda was sentenced to death for murder in 2006 and his sentence finalised in April 2009 after he withdrew his appeal to the Supreme Court. In Japan, no mandatory appeals of death penalty cases take place, leaving serious questions as to whether all necessary legal requirements were met in his case.
It is estimated that 131 people are currently on death row in Japan. Nineteen offences carry the death penalty, although in practice it is only imposed for murder. Executions are by hanging and are typically carried out in secret. No advance notice is given to their families and lawyers. The death row inmates themselves are only notified on the morning of their execution which means that they live under constant fear of execution.
ADPAN is also concerned that Japan still relies heavily on the daiyo kangoku system, which allows the police to detain and interrogate a suspect for up to twenty-three 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 a moratorium on all executions, to commute all death sentences and to work toward abolition of the death penalty for all crimes.
ADPAN Members from Japan: