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ADPAN URGES JAPAN FEDERATION OF BAR ASSOCIATION(JFBA) MEMBERS TO TAKE A STRONG CLEAR STANCE FOR THE ABOLITION OF THE DEATH PENALTY
He was sentenced to death in 1968 in a case based on evidence apparently fabricated by police.
Japanese lawyers urge country to abolish death penalty
Japan has one of the world’s lowest murder rates, making the need for capital punishment unconvincing, the federation said.
By: AP | Tokyo | Published:October 7, 2016 9:33 pm
Japan has one of the world’s lowest murder rates, making the need for capital punishment unconvincing, the federation said. It also cited the risk of wrongful convictions and the lack of evidence that the death penalty reduces crime. Nearly 130 prisoners are on death row in Japan, according to justice officials. Crimes subject to a possible death penalty in Japan include murder and acts such as arson or sabotage that cause death, usually in the most egregious cases or involving multiple victims, as well as terrorist attacks and attempted coups.
“We should face the fact that the death penalty … is a serious and grave violation of human rights by the state,” the group said in a statement, adopted after heated debate and objection by opponents at a convention in Fukui, western Japan. The statement said the possibility of mistrials and wrongful accusations could not be denied. “Once carried out, the death penalty is irreversible and fundamentally different from other punishment.”
Four death row prisoners have been found innocent and released after being granted retrials since the 1980s, including former professional boxer Iwao Hakamada, who won release in 2014 after nearly 50 years on death row for a wrongful murder accusation. Japan and the US are the only Group of Seven members that maintain the death penalty, while 140 nations have ended the practice that opponents consider cruel.
The prospect of any change is unclear as the majority of Japanese still support the death penalty. Some lawyers favor keeping the capital punishment as a way to address the victims’ feelings. At today’s convention, a group of lawyers handed out leaflets, unsuccessfully trying to vote down the federation-wide policy. Membership in a local bar association is compulsory for Japan’s more than 37,000 lawyers, and its members include a few hundred other people, such as foreign lawyers. – The Indian Express, 7/10/2016
Japan lawyers’ group seeks end to death penalty
Japan’s biggest lawyers’ group on Friday called for the abolition of the death penalty, a controversial move in country where a large majority of the public supports executing criminals convicted of the most serious offences.
Some 80 percent of the public and the core of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling party favor capital punishment. Japan and the United States are the only two members of the Group of Seven advanced economies to practice it.
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations issued a declaration calling for the abolishment of the death penalty by 2020, citing the possibility of wrongful convictions and international trends against capital punishment. It also said there was little evidence that it deterred crime.
“There’s a serious risk of false charges under Japan’s criminal justice system, which has fatal flaws in the disclosure of evidence and long periods of detainment and interrogation,” the statement said.
The death penalty is currently used for crimes including murder, coups and arson or rape that causes death.
The move by the lawyers’ group was expected to be opposed by a politically vocal victims’ rights group, which has consistently urged that the death penalty be maintained.
“When a life is taken by crime, that life will never return,” the group said on its homepage. “For the dead person’s loved ones to want heavy punishment is only natural.”
The danger, said Shizuka Kamei, a former Cabinet member who was a police official for decades before entering politics, was that an innocent person may end up condemned.
“Depriving an innocent, defenseless person of their life is a heinous killing on the part of the nation,” Kamei, head of an anti-death penalty lawmakers group, said during a news conference on Thursday.
Proponents of the death penalty say it deters crime, but activists note that nearly 99 percent of criminal trials in Japan end with convictions and reliance on confessions is high. Suspects are not always guaranteed the presence of a lawyer.
There were 127 people on death row at several prisons around Japan at the end of 2015.
(Additional reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto and Malcolm Foster; Editing by Nick Macfie) – Reuters, 7/10/2016