ADPAN condemns the execution of Tokuhisa Kumagai on 12 September 2013. His execution was ordered by Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki bringing to six the number of executions this year.
Tokuhisa Kumagai, aged 73, was hanged at the Tokyo Detention Centre. Kumagai was tried for murder in 2004. In 2005, he was sentenced to life imprisonment but the prosecutor appealed to the Tokyo High Court and the Court overturned the earlier decision of life imprisonment and increased Kumagai’s sentence to that of the death penalty in 2007. His sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court in 2011.
In Japan, prisoners are only informed of their execution the morning of the day they are to be executed. As the government does not release basic information on the death penalty there is little open debate and the public are poorly informed of the real issues surrounding its use.
The six executions this year and the seven in 2012 have taken place under the Liberal Democratic Party leading to fears that more will follow. The Japanese government consistently rejects recommendations from the UN Human Rights Council to abolish the death penalty or to introduce a moratorium on executions.
This execution also took place shortly after Tokyo was selected as the host city of the 2020 Summer Olympics. The OIympic Charter stipulates, ‘The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity’. “Executions in Japan are incompatible with a society that strives for the preservation of human dignity” says ADPAN.
The death penalty is in decline globally and the number of executions coming down in the Asia-Pacific region. “Japan remains one of the few industrialised countries still carrying out executions and whose criminal justice system does not provide adequate legal safeguards to those charged with capital offences leading to additional concerns around unfair trials” says Louise Vischer, ADPAN coordinator.
ADPAN, with a membership in Japan and 27 countries mainly from Asia and the Pacific, works for an end to the death penalty. The network will continue to push for a moratorium on executions with a view to the eventual abolition of the death penalty in Japan and across the region.
ADPAN members in Japan:
See news story in Japanese and English from ADPAN members, Centre for Prisoners’ Rights, Japan
http://www.cpr.jca.apc.org/archive/statement (Japanese)Follow @adpanetwork