Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network

Japan hangs 2 inmates, matching highest-ever year’s total of 15

Japan hangs 2 inmates, matching highest-ever year’s total of 15

KYODO NEWS KYODO NEWS – Dec 27, 2018 – 19:05 | All, Japan

Japan executed two death-row inmates Thursday, the Justice Ministry said, bringing the number of executions in the country this year to 15, matching the highest-ever figure marked in 2008 since the government resumed the death penalty in 1993.

The two were 60-year-old Keizo Okamoto, a former senior member of a crime syndicate, and 67-year-old Hiroya Suemori, a former investment adviser. They were sentenced to death for the murder-robbery of the president and an employee of an investment advisory company in 1988.

“It was an extremely cruel case in which they robbed the victims of their precious lives for selfish reasons. (The executions) were the result of numerous careful considerations,” said Justice Minister Takashi Yamashita, adding he signed an execution order on Tuesday.

Yamashita also said he believes abolishing the death penalty is “inappropriate.”

The hanging of the two in Osaka in the morning brought the number of executions under the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took office in 2012, to 36.

The executions were the first since July, when AUM Shinrikyo cult guru Shoko Asahara and 12 former members of the cult were executed over a two-day period.

With the executions of the two, the number of inmates under sentence of death stands at 109 in Japan.

Japan’s system of capital punishment has drawn international criticism, although some polls suggest the majority of the Japanese public support it. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations has called for it to be abolished by 2020, demanding instead lifetime imprisonment without parole.

Human rights group Amnesty International Japan expressed its concern that the country “may have started treading a path toward mass executions,” citing that the latest executions were only five months after the punishments on the 13 AUM members.

It also said in a statement that “the Japanese government seems to be acting completely against the global movement” toward abolishing capital punishments after the U.N. General Assembly adopted this month a resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty, with a record-high 121 countries supporting it.

Yamashita said the government has carefully considered the gravity of each case, denying a view it is speeding up executions before finding it difficult to carry out the death penalty next year amid the enthronement of a new emperor as well as the Tokyo Olympics.

(Osaka detention center)

Thursday’s executions came on the heels of the establishment earlier this month of a lawmakers’ group to discuss the future of Japan’s death penalty system, with more than 50 lawmakers from ruling and opposition parties taking part.

A 2014 government survey revealed that 80.3 percent of Japanese people aged 20 or older favored capital punishment, down from a record 85.6 percent in the previous survey in 2009. A total of 9.7 percent said the death penalty should be abolished, up 4 points.

Dec 27, 2018 | KYODO NEWS

Japan – Condemnation of the Mass Execution Authorized by the Japanese Minister of Justice: Yoko Kamikawa

Condemnation of the Mass Execution Authorized by the Japanese Minister of Justice: Yoko Kamikawa
July 26, 2018
Center for Prisoner Rights
Japan Innocence and Death Penalty Information Center
Today, according to an order signed by Minister of Justice (Ms) Yoko Kamikawa, six former members of the Aum Supreme Truth Cult, Satoru Hashimoto, age 51; Toru Toyota, age 50; Kenichi Hirose, age 54; Yasuo Hayashi (later named Yasuo Koike), age 60; Masato Yokoyama, age 54; and Kazuaki Okazaki (later named Kazuaki Miyamae), age 57, were executed. Hayashi and Okazaki changed their surnames after they were imprisoned.
The Center for Prisoner Rights and the Japan Innocence and Death Penalty Information Center strongly protest this mass execution. Including the 7 executions carried out on July 6th, 13 executions have occurred inside twenty days. This is the first time in modern Japanese history that so many executions have occurred in such a short time span.
After the 7 executions on July 6, many voices throughout the world have criticized the Japanese government regarding this awful act. Leading movements such as The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP), and the Worldwide Movement for Human Rights (FIDH), have shouted loudly for the revocation of the death sentences against the remaining six cult members. Four of these, Yokoyama, Koike, Toyota and Hirose, had filed for retrials.
Executing those who have filed for retrial violates the right of due process, and nullifies the right of having an objective court of law decide a proper outcome. The United Nations Human Rights Committee has repeatedly admonished the Japanese government to postpone execution of those who have filed for retrials.
  Furthermore, in March of this year, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)has insisted that the executions of the 13 Aum defendants, regardless of the status of retrial, would be in violation of United Nation Standards for the Protection of Human Rights.
In addition, many other voices have called for the termination of executions. These include the Japan Society for Cult Prevention and Recovery (www.jscpr.org/english), and the families of former Aum members-including victims of violence-have spoken out against execution. They seek a better understanding of the dynamics which caused this tragedy, and methods to prevent future occurrences.
With todays executions, the total number authorized by Minister of Justice Yoko Kamikawa, including her previous term (from October, 2014 to October, 2015) is now 16. This is the highest number since executions were restarted in 1993, and even surpasses the 13 authorized by a previous minister, Kunio Hatoyama, who the media dubbed as the “grim reaper.”
This past September (2017), Kamikawa presented the welcome remarks at the World Congress on Probation in Tokyo. The motto of the conference was “People can change.” As justice minister, Kamikawa’s motto is “a society in which no one is left behind.” A politician with two faces, she obviously does not believe that people will change, and is happy to dispose and leave behind prisoners sentenced to death. Including those who show remorse and have apologized for past acts.
In 2019, Japan will hold the Enthronement Ceremony for the new emperor, In 2020, Tokyo will host the summer Olympics and Para-Olympics, and Kyoto will host the 14th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. In light of these events which are celebrations of harmony and friendship among nations, the mass execution of former Aum Supreme Truth cultists is truly a contradiction.
On December 30, 1997, the nation of South Korea carried out 23 executions in one day. Since then, no executions have occurred. We strongly request that the Japanese government and the Ministry of Justice follow the lead of international society and abandon abnormal punishment. We hope that this round of executions will be the last in Japan, and demand that concrete investigation and dialogue be immediately opened toward the abolishment of the death penalty.

JAPAN : HALT all executions!

ADPAN

ADPAN Press Statement
Dated : 16 July 2018

 

JAPAN : HALT all executions!

 

ADPAN condemns the execution of the 7 members of the Aum Shinrikyo religious cult on 6 July 2018. To our knowledge, this was the highest number of executions conducted by the Japanese Government within a single day.

 
We believe that the death penalty has no place in today’s society. Its existence serves only the purpose of “vengeance” and nothing else. Death Penalty does not adequately address the issue of justice for all the parties. On the other hand, the death penalty is irreversible and we cannot bring back life if one is wrongly convicted and executed.

 
In the Japanese legal system, a condemned prisoner on death row may petition for retrial after conviction. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations had on 29 March 2018, made a request to the Ministry of Justice, urging the government to suspend all executions of death row inmates (whose death sentences are finalized), especially those who have filed a petition for a retrial and those who may be mentally incompetent to be executed. The Japanese government has obviously disregarded this call.

 
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations has been very vocal in campaigning for the
abolition of the death penalty in Japan, citing that death penalty is irreversible and can never be condoned. In a statement dated 19 December 2017, the Federation states that “In Japan, during the 1980s alone, there were four cases where the defendant was convicted and sentenced to death but was later found not guilty during a retrial”; and the “Hakamada case made on March 27, 2014 serves as an important reminder to all of us that the possibility of a wrongful judgment or false accusation is viable and realistic”.

 
In September 2017, ADPAN, together with 14 NGOs and Civil Societies across Asia,
submitted a stakeholder report for Japan’s Universal Periodical Review and we have
recommended immediate moratorium of all executions. We continue to call for the
moratorium and the abolishment of the death penalty.

 
We understand that another 6 executions might be imminent following the executions on 6 July 2018.

 
We call on the government of Japan to halt such executions and impose a moratorium immediately.

Issued by:
Ngeow Chow Ying
Member of Executive Committee

Related Posts:-

Japan – Letter of Protest Regarding the execution of seven inmates on July 6, 2018

Japan – 7 executions in one day?

Japan – ADPAN & 14 CSOs Submission for UPR

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