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 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

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Japan – ADPAN & 14 CSOs Submission for UPR

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

Below a letter of protest send by ADPAN members Center for Prisoner Rights and Japan Death Penalty Information Center


July 6, 2018

Ms. Yoko Kamikawa

Minister of Justice

Tokyo, Japan

Center for Prisoner Rights


Japan Death Penalty Information Center


Regarding the execution of seven inmates on July 6, 2018.

This morning, according to an order signed by Japanese Minister of Justice Yoko Kamikawa, seven death row prisoners:

Matsumoto (aka Shoko Asahara), Kiyohide Hayakawa, Yoshihiro Inoue, Tomomitsu Niimi, Masami Tsuchiya, Tomomasa Nakagawa, and Seiichi Endo, were hung on the gallows. The Center for Prisoner Rights and the Japan Innocence and Death Penalty Information Center condemn these executions which are fraught with illegalities.

First, the execution of Matsumoto is very likely in violation of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Article 479, clearly states, “Where the person who has been sentenced to death is in a state of insanity, the execution shall be suspended by order of the Minister of Justice.”

On June 15 of this year, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, on demand of private citizens, surveyed death row prisoners and found that 8 are either close to, or, in a recognized state of legal insanity. The association advised Minister Kamikawa to stay these sentences. While the Federation of Bar Associations did not release the names of the eight prisoners in question, it is quite certain that Chizuo Matsumoto, who is blind and suffers from incarceration syndrome, was included. We would have to harken back to the December 2007 execution of Seiha Fujima to find such a miscarriage of justice.

Secondly, according to news reports, 6 out of 7 of the executed prisoners were seeking retrial. Executing those seeing retrial is a violation of prisoner’s rights, as well as a denial of justice by those holding the reign of power. The United Nation’s Human Rights Committee has advised the Japanese government, a signee to present treaties, to not repeat executions of those seeking retrial. Needless to say, the three executions that occurred in 2017 was the first time since 1999 that prisoners seeking retrial were put to death. It is clear that the Ministry of Justice used this as a precedent for today’s executions.

Minister Kamikawa has persistently stated a desire to realize “a society in which no one is left behind.” Nevertheless, as of today, it is clearly evident that in light of today’s executions of 7 former members of the Aum Supreme Truth Cult, the minister’s declaration is just a façade to decorate the upcoming 2019 Imperial Enthronement, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, as well as the United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice to be held in Kyoto in April 2020. And at the same time, it is evident that the remaining six members of Aum Supreme Truth Cult will be executed under the same guise of “no one left behind.”

The human dignity of all human beings must be respected. We deplore the executions carried out today, and will continue to use all means possible to seek the worldwide abolition of the death penalty, and the termination of executions in Japan.


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