crime

New justice minister won't OK executions in near future

46 Comments

Newly appointed Justice Minister Hideo Hiraoka, speaking at his first news conference on Friday night, said that he had no plans to approve any executions of death-row inmates in the foreseeable future.

No condemned convicts have been executed in Japan for more than a year. Currently, Japanese prisons have 120 inmates on death row — the highest figure in recent history. Since the last execution was carried out 13 months ago, 16 new death sentences have been handed down by courts. Of these, eight cases involved rulings in which citizen jurors took part.

Hiraoka said there was a growing movement worldwide to abolish the death penalty and said he wants to study both sides the issue more deeply. "The death penalty is always a last resort and I must be extremely cautious about making a decision to approve an execution. For the time being, I can't see any executions going ahead."

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46 Comments
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This is great news! Japan is taking a big step in becoming a civilised nation.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

This is great news! Japan is taking a big step in becoming a civilised nation

I agree. Something positive from a J-politician for once. Especially since he mentioned that it's in part due to a "movement worldwide to abolish the death penalty."

There might be hope for Japan yet.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

How much does anyone want to bet that Asahara Shoko never swings?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

...Nation's debt will go up a little and next Justice Miniter will have to expedite executions. Does it make sense?

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

I think the time to study about a mandate you are required to implement is before not after you are appointed. This means he essentially usurps the will of the people.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Once the LDP is voted back in power we can be assured of a return to this honorable "tradition."

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Please execute them all. It's crueler not knowing your date of execution. Some have been in prison close to 40 years after the death sentence has been finalised. Japanese law states that the death sentence has to be carried out within 6 months after the final verdict. But many Justice Ministers refuse to sign the papers. Many of you will change your mind about the death penalty if any of your family members were murdered.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

I have always opposed the death penalty even if any member of my family was killed. The U.S has the death penalty along with the world's biggest prison pop, 2 million+?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

This is great news! Japan is taking a big step in becoming a civilised nation.

Has no other alternatives if she wants to survive the oncoming decade. Though they might turn back to the old one if they feel themselves strong and rich enough again. We will see.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It's crueler not knowing your date of execution.

Not if they abolish the death penalty altogether.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Authorising the death of another individual is a very difficult position in a Civilian role, especially if you have to think about it and assess whether there is absolutely no doubt of guilt and other course of action available. However lets say you have in front of you a radical relgious terrorist who wishes to do nothing else other than kill your fellow countrymen/women/children... what do you do then ? No matter of subtle persuasion or internment will help those with a mindset on killing you. So perhaps the death sentence has its place ?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@gaijinfo

But the problem is 76.8% of Japanese support the death penalty according to the latest polls.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

some14someSep. 03, 2011 - 05:16PM JST

...Nation's debt will go up a little and next Justice Miniter will have to expedite executions. Does it make sense?

Apparently, you meant to ask "Does it make cents?" as it seems you put money before principle.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Some of those on death row have been found guilty of the most cruel, horrific and sadistic taking of a persons life.It is natural that public oppinion favoured the drastic measure to execute the perpertrators of these crimes. The alternative to the death sentence is to incarcerate murderers, but a life sentence should mean just that. Never ever to be released back into soceity

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@gaijinfo But the problem is 76.8% of Japanese support the death penalty according to the latest polls.

Still does not mean it is the right thing to do.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

@CrazyJoe

Many of you will change your mind about the death penalty if any of your family members were murdered.

Yes, I agree. And that's why there is a thing called a justice system. Because without it people would be inclined toward inflicting justice based on raw anger and loss. That is what most crimes are based on. Justice should be the attempt to transcend that basal instinct in the best interests of all members of society. The death penalty is a profound example of the stubbornness of irrationality and willful ignorance.

I welcome this statement by the new justice minister.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

In my book, there's nothing right or wrong about death penalty and boils down to what is more beneficial. It's cheaper to execute them, than to keep feeding and clothing them for several decades, although if you prove otherwise, I'm ready to change my mind. Also works as a detergent and lastly it gives some closure to the ones affected, although this shouldn't be the decisive point. Benefits of abolishing the death penalty would be the warm and fuzzy feeling inside that we are a highly civilized society, right there with the Mexicans and Russians among others.

The new justice minister probably also knows that by dragging his feet for about a year, he will be home free without the need to dirty his hands.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I am against the death penalty. What I meant was that the laws on capital punishment most likely will not be repealed for now at least.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The maximum penalty should be applied to murderers. Death by hanging is the maximim penalty allowed in Japan. Life termers are released after 15 or 20 years and many do commit more murders. I sure wouldn't want to be the next victim.

So you people are saying Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy and other serial killers in USA should be still alive?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

So you people are saying Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy and other serial killers in USA should be still alive?

I'm saying they should not have been executed by an enlightened governing body. Nothing is accomplished by doing so, and moral integrity is lost by doing so. If you want to talk about maximum penalty, why not torture people to death?

Life termers are released after 15 or 20 years and many do commit more murders.

The death penalty is no solution to such a problem (and I question your data).

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

99% conviction rate means the system is almost perfect. If the conviction rate was only 80%, it would mean 20% of the people are put on trial for a crime they did not commiti. No one would want that to happen.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Patrick Smash

I do see your point though. But no system is perfect. Do we have to abolish a system just because it is not perfect?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

99% conviction rate means the system is almost perfect.

No, it doesn't. It means the system is deeply flawed because it is dishonest and/or deluded. Come on, you know better.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@plasticmonkey

Would you give me a conviction rate that you'd be satisfied with.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The recent exposure of prosecutors manipulating evidence to secure convictions, along with poor judicial procedure, coercion of confessions, false depositions, has put doubt in the minds of many...

More and more folk are sure that many executions were of innocent people, just to maintain the stats...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Less than 50% of those arrested in Japan are ever indicted for the crime according to the Justice Ministry. Extreme care is given by prosecutors for an indictment. If they cannot win in court, they won't indict. But no system is perfect.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I see why they call you Crazy, Joe.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I do not want to sound arrogant but all of these anti death penalty bleeding heart liberals have no clue as to how EVIL, how TWISTED, how satanic, rotten to the very core many of these bastards behind bars really are, keep living in your lalalala Disneyland fantasy world never mind to close and lock your doors at night because the fairy god mother will kiss your chopped off head and bring you back to life??? What a bunch of BS! We need to control evil people, they must be killed, in my native Mexico WE DO NOT HAVE THE DEATH PENALTY like up in the good state of TEXAS, but many evil Mexicans who are stupid to do crimes up in Texas have a great time in the Huntsville prison and their is a real nice electric chair waiting for them, which in Mexico we do not have, so in Mexico if the cops know you raped, killed etc..they will let the victims family know where you are and forget about the death penalty because the victims family will skin you alive in public and then douse you with good old Mexican PEMEX the name of our gasoline and see Mexican style justice in the hands of the people and for the people. Do you all want the Japanese running around thirsting for justice here in Tokyo too???

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Will Mr. Hiraoka pay for the convicted murderers' food, clothing, shelter, medical care, etc?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

@Patrick Smash

I do understand what you're saying. I also don't want anyone in prison if he is innocent. But keeping those death row inmates in prison for such a long time is cruel also, knowing that they may be executed anyday.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Good. Let who ever deserves to lose their life actually lose it, not by easily escaping through death but by not living their time. THAT is punishment. THAT is a true death. Six sides of concrete. Nothing but that. And if those sentenced as such prove to be innocent, well, then they can at least live what is left.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The Justice Minister should not have accepted the job if he cannot sign the execution (death) warrant.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

@Patrick

the cruelty of life behind bars with plenty of hard labour thrown in still appeals to me.

Really? I had you down as pretty decent human being. :(

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Death sentence... It's not a deterrent if it was then why are people still committing heinous crimes? If a 99% conviction rate (on par with N-Korea) does not cause a pause for thought then nothing will. And the idea of some innocent people being killed to satisfy the blood lust of society is OK...hope It's not me. I would also point out that the countries that continue to use the Death penalty does not read as a scroll of honer. If you include the USA (who have the highest percentage of population in jail) and have admitted to torture along side Burma, China, Syria...etc. Why would any country want to be in that club. As for cost, well being civilized does cost. On the upside the country can join the majority that do not as a society kill it's own surly the price is worth it.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@Cricky

You are oh so right.... But be prepared to be thumbed-down by the pitchfork brigade! :)

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

@Patrick Smash

I agree with your opinion.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The title of the article is not the same as what the minister says o the last paragraph and opening sentence. As he stated it's a "last resort" and for this we won't see any executions approved in the future which means the option is still on the table for him.

It's cheaper and more economically viable for the J-Govt to keep the D.P since under law the method of execution is hanging which is of little cost. As opposed to the U.S where the condemned get to choose how they would like to be executed.

The first comment is also hilarious as he thinks he is in a position to judge what a civilized country is lol.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Australia has now written into law with support of all political parties that no government now or in the future will ever be able to bring in the death penalty. My country will never by mistake execute an innocent person and I am proud of that.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This is indeed welcome news! Until they root out all the corrupt prosecutors and their staff, there should be a moratorium on all executions.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I would not trust the verdicts involving the death sentence. There have been too many released recently. All cases should be reviewed by an independent panel. Compared with the 3,000+ on death row in America, there are only about 120 in Japan. But some American states have abolished the death penalty too. Anyone on death row for more than 20 years should have their sentence reduced to life in prison. The death row prisons are outside of the prison regulations which they should be part of and open to independent inspections, which they are not. Until recently, the media was never allowed inside. The family of the executed are only informed after the sentence is carried out. The death row inmates are only informed of their immediate execution on the morning of the day. Inmates are kept in total isolation, some for 40+ years. If we treated animals in the same way, there would be an outcry!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A majority of crimes that involves the death sentence with a lack of pardoning including the solitary confinement of inmates in addition to execution of older people despite ages of mental disorders are positive signs for those in favor of abolishing the death sentence. However a large percentage of Japanese do support the death penalty. But should the death penalty be enforced by a majority opinion? That is debatable. Hence the secrecy of the cruel death penalty administered under the archaic laws leaves a near-absolute discretion in the hands of the judge and Justice Minister to decide who is sentenced and executed. This practice leaves little doubt about the subjectivity and confidence in as a measure of justice. In my view, the death penalty especially by hanging is primitive, inhuman, offers no choice of execution and the convicts continue to go through torture every day although the conditions have improved to a certain degree.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Basing the country's decision on a national poll - not a good idea. If we accepted the results of a poll, Japan would have no organ donation and jury duty would have been deemed too confusing (like adopting summer Time is). I am against capital punishment - I think that there have been far too many cases of wrongful imprisonment - not just accidental, but with the knowledge of the authorities (forged documents, forced confessions) - to trust that th right person is being punished.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The law must be followed. If he were against the death penalty, he should work hard to revise the low before pushing personal decision. Otherwise, he seems coward that is reluctant to have the responsibility for any results. It would contain a possibility of negative consequence to permit him to personally ignore the low.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Leaders should do more than just stop executions temporarily on their short shift in office. If they believe capital punishment is wrong, they should lead. They should use the office as a platform and teach people why it's wrong.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Basing the country's decision on a national poll - not a good idea. If we accepted the results of a poll, Japan would have no organ donation and jury duty would have been deemed too confusing (like adopting summer Time is).

Very well said, Maria. Running policy based purely upon popularity is not the way to responsibly govern. Having said that, I do believe in Capital Punishment in the worst of heinous crimes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If they have to keep it then I wish they would not use hanging. It only looks like an instant death because the person being hanged can't send any nerve impulses through their severed spinal cord. They actaully die from asphyxiation which takes a few minutes. Even if they are instantly unconsciouss when their neck breaks, the last thing they will feel is their head being pulled right over which is really horrible.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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