crime

Survey shows 85.2% of Japanese in favor of death penalty

49 Comments

On Feb 21, Japan hanged a trio of convicts for murders including the kidnapping death of a young girl and a stabbing rampage. Those executed were Masahiro Kanagawa, Kaoru Kobayashi and Keiki Kano.

As always, these hangings drew outrage from Amnesty International and the Japanese Federation of Bar Associations who made a statement saying they find “these executions unacceptable.”

However, this opposition is largely ignored by the government of Japan who maintains that the population at large supports their policy of penalty by death.

To confirm this, the following day, the Research Panel website posted the results of a survey conducted of 29,364 people asking them how they felt about the death penalty.

According to the survey, 85.2% of people responded that they are in favor of having a death penalty, and 14.9% stood against it.

These figures are in line with surveys conducted by major newspapers on their subscribers. The percentages of readers who support capital punishment are as follows.

■ Sankei – 91.1% ■ Yomiuri – 88.1% ■ Nikkei – 86.2% ■ Mainichi – 84.1% ■ Asahi – 82.2%

So it certainly seems that Japanese people are overwhelmingly in favor of executions. The reasons are typical of death penalty supporters around the world. Here are few gathered by the Research Panel website.

■ “Keeping violent criminals alive is a waste of tax revenue.” ■ “If a loved one was killed in cold blood, it’s only natural to want them to pay with their life.” ■ “I wish they were executed right after sentencing.”

On the other side of the coin, here’s what the anti-hanging crowd had to say.

■ “I think crime hasn’t slowed down with the existence of the death penalty.” ■ “Taking another person’s life for any reason is still murder.” ■ “I think you have to be very careful when passing judgments and really take false accusations into account.”

A large number of the people disagreeing with capital punishment cited wrongful convictions and false accusations as the main reason for life sentences.

However, fracturing the already small minority of death penalty opponents is a group with more unique views on the issue.

■ “Ending a person’s life by death is way too light a punishment.” ■ “I think they should get an even crueler penalty [than death].” ■ “Apologize by dying? Come on. Death just ends their miserable life. I want them to suffer a hell of being unforgiven no matter how much they apologize or feel remorse.”

Given this development, if the survey were to be retaken with three options – life sentence, death sentence, or fate-worse-than-death sentence – we would surely see some of the death penalty numbers cross over into this new camp.

So while much of the developed world seems to be moving away from capital punishment, the people of Japan remain firmly in favor of it and are perhaps even willing to take things a step further.

It’s unlikely to see the nation return to boiling people alive or pick up hanging, drawing, and quartering as more extreme forms of punishment.

And with the closed nature of executions in Japan it’s hard to gauge what psychological condition the current 134 death row inmates are kept in to begin with. People’s opinions could change with more light shed on how the system works and the actual effect it has on prisoners.

For better or worse, current Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki has no intentions of making any changes saying “it is not necessary to review the issue at this time.”

Source: Research Panel, Shunkan News

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49 Comments
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Not surprising. The Japan is the most reactionary society in the developed world.

15 ( +26 / -11 )

It's inhumane.

3 ( +14 / -11 )

■ Sankei – 91.1% ■ Yomiuri – 88.1% ■ Nikkei – 86.2% ■ Mainichi – 84.1% ■ Asahi – 82.2%

An interesting thing is that these findings represent the political spectrum of these newspapers: Sankei as most rightmost wing and Asahi as the leftmost, except for Akahata (Commie). I'm sure the Sankei researchers ask this way: "You support death penalty, don't you?"

9 ( +13 / -4 )

But where is the debate on hanging (one that was once promised)? If there is no debate the voters in these polls never hear any other view than their own, probably, knee-jerk reaction. And it is unlikely that they will make the connection by themselves, for example, that erroneous and forced convictions could easily lead to mistakes being made (and probably have been) and that that mistake could be them. Or that the death penalty can lead to more murders as some killers actually seek the death penalty, and have said so in the past. Such a poll is merely useful for those in power who want to keep the death penalty and can claim to be heeding public opinion.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

It makes me sad to see humanity wallowing in the same backwards thinking that has plagued us since societies began. Despite the presence of death penalties around the world for thousands of years, the crimes punishable by death persist. Despite studies that clearly indicate that the death penalty is not a deterrent, it still exists. Despite facts that illustrate that it is typically costly to society, people persist in wanting it.

How can a society claim the moral high ground and say "Killing is Wrong" when society uses the same solution for problems? It is a moral contradiction and sends a clear message to society that violence is indeed a solution to problems.

We need to evolve beyond retribution and create societies that abhor violence, not embrace it.

Another reason to see illustrations of Japan's decline.

10 ( +18 / -8 )

What happened to the option to take ones own life to show true remorse? What about the option to donate your organs to save other peoples lives? Some people who are sick and dying should be given assisted suicide. I still like the idea of a Running Man type TV show where convicted murdering scum are given a chance to make it through a maze of death traps to an island.. life in a box is inhumane.. but why not create a penal colony that is self sustaining and does not cost tax payers money. Also to rehabilitate some non violent criminals there should be work farms with no chance of escape where convicts can work off their crimes.. let them sell a kidney to pay debt to society.. be at least allowed to be outside, working a garden or practicing a trade that is useful to society.. for things like robbery... not everyone needs to be thrown in a volcano or boiled in oil..

-10 ( +3 / -13 )

There is so much 'grudge' in this society. They need to understand that both the murderers who committed the crimes and the people who want them dead, are suffering from the same problem: holding a 'grudge'. They need more spiritual care and these shrines and temples apparently are not providing much; they just sell them wishes ...

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Japan is just a very conservative society. Although I am not that conservative, I do understand and agree with capital punishment to some extent. Having said this, I think it should only be reserved for the most dangerous people who have committed the most hideous crimes and have been proven beyond any doubt that they committed the crime.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

It's inhumane.

So are the murders that some of these animals commit

0 ( +11 / -11 )

I believe there's a need for the death penalty since some people really need to by put out of society's mistery. That being said, a country whose culture seems compelled to extract confessions from accused "no matter what" (even if they're innocent), that's a big effing problem right there.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

The facts of this article are incorrect. Masahiro Kanagawa did go on a stabbing spree but he only managed to kill 1 person, injuring 7 in addition to another person he killed prior to the spree. Shoddy journalism take a bow.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Good for Japan!! Last time I checked the japanese society had the right to create and adhere to laws created by their society for their society. As do all FREE societies. No other group of people have the right to judge another group because they have a different set of social norms. THis shows the death penalty is socially acceptable in japan. DON"T CRY AbouT IT

-8 ( +8 / -16 )

Considering Japan has over 99% conviction rate and many suspects are convicted on confession (after being interrogated for 23 days with no video or audio recording), the death penalty is guaranteed to kill innocent people.

10 ( +15 / -5 )

Capital punishment, which is irreversible, can only be a rational action if the system of investigation and conviction is 100% error-free, which of course is impossible. It also completely contradicts the duty of a civilized society to rehabilitate criminals regardless of the offense. Emotional or cost-based arguments are not be justifications for the death penalty. A civilized people should be able to understand tht two wrongs can never make a right, regardless of how satisfied surviving family and friends may feel from the vengeance.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

@Jeff Lee I'd argue South Korea is more reactionary than Japan about most moral issues but even they haven't carried out this filthy practice in 15 years. It's worth looking at the countries which still hang, gas, electrocute, behead etc people - most of which are corrupt, theocratic or despotic. I don't want to see my country keeping this kind of company.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Given the atrocious "justice" system in Japan I wonder how anyone can support the death penalty. I guess none of those in favour have been convicted of a crime on the basis of a forced confession, a practice the government is in no hurry to change.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Japanese and Chinese public have found a common ground for agreement. 99.4% of the Chinese public are in favor of the Death Penalty.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I know its not the fashionable view but I do suport the death penalty IF there is no question of guilt (such as in Kanagawas case), the person in question is sane, and all interrogations are given full transparency with audio and video recordings - which clearly does not happen here in Japan.

I just think someone who takes a life should pay with their own. Two wrongs dont make a right, but one wrong is a lot more wrong than the other wrong. Taking an innocent childs life cannot be put in the same ballpark as taking the life of the killer of that child.

It may not be a deterrent for murder, but then what is?

I know this post will bring a raft of thumbs down, but its just how I feel. I have no sympathy for killers.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

The problem with the argument that "killing is wrong" is that it doesn't take into account who is being killed. Yes, generally killing is wrong. But it gets much mirkier when we consider specific situations. For example, is it wrong for me to kill an attacker to defend my own life or my child's life? If not then clearly not all killing is wrong. What has changed about the situation if the attacker succeeds in killing me or my child? If I am clearly justified in killing them to protect my life or a loved ones life then isn't the state also justified in killing them after the fact. I suppose that is the difference between killing in self defense and killing in retribution. What we need to distinguish is whether we think that society is served in some positive way by eliminating convicted murderers from society. It doesn't necessarily have to be for the reason of deterring crime. It could be that it should be done because these murderers are of no benefit whatsoever to society and are, in more ways, a drain. The tricky part is determining who should be responsible for deciding that. We have thus far left it up to courts to hand out judgements. I don't know of a better way.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

We won't condone cruel and unusual punishment. But executing a person isn't cruel and unusual. Sure, that's rational.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Those people calling for a "fate- worse-than-death" sound like they're over the edge and best to avoid.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Those calling for the death penalty also sound over the edge and best to avoid. Revenge should never enter the justice system, and "optional" basic human rights defeat the very object of having basic human rights in the first place.

The better survey question to ask is "do you support the death penalty for yourself, your children, your family, and all of your friends, as the situation requires?" Choices: 1) Yes. 2) No. 3) Nobody I know would ever commit such a crime as to require the death penalty. (Subset of "No") 4) No answer. (Subset of "No") I suspect we'd see a very different picture emerging.

Condemning somebody to death is easy when it's some other faceless person you don't know or care about.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Keeping criminals is just crazy. Death penalty is a good thing or else Japan will end up like Philippines where crimes happen everyday. And justice? Hell no... if you are just accused, a little bail could get you out in prison right away.

Death penalty is a good thing when it is done on the right people. Of course, false accusations in a first world country only happens if the government is corrupt and wants to silence someone. I don't think Japan is like that. lol.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Interesting for a country that has long been partially Buddhist.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I am in favor of the DP, BUT, I think they should get rid of it.

My reasoning is: because you get idiot cowards, like that guy who they executed the other day, who murder people because they're too weak to commit suicide and want the government to kill them.

How many times have we heard someone say, "I killed a few random people because I want the country to kill me because I was too weak to kill myself".

If you get rid of the DP, you force these wastes of space to either man up and face what their problems are; or go hang themselves in Aokigahara or somewhere.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

85.2% of the people approve of the death penalty. The will of the people rules.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

"Amnesty International and the Japanese Federation of Bar Associations... they find these executions unacceptable"

A lot of people find the murders committed by these murderers unacceptable.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

A large number of the people disagreeing with capital punishment cited wrongful convictions and false accusations as the main reason for life sentences.

Typical "last dougnut" morality. So these people are happy to wrongfully imprison someone for their whole life, but don't actually want to take responsibility for ending the person's life.... even though a life sentence is effectively doing that, but with far more cruelty than a death sentence since with a life sentence the person lingers waiting in prison, bored, abused by the guards, suffering daily.

Which one is really "cruel and inhumane", keeping someone who knows they're innocent alive to suffer an incredibly empty and rigid existence in prison for 20 years, or executing them and releasing them from their suffering?

Does anyone even read the old legends anymore? The Greek Gods were notoriously cruel and one example was Cassandra who was doomed to know the truth about the future, but be disbelieved by everyone around her. This was the ultimate cruelty. This is what innocent prisoners go through.

I'd suggest the following steps:

Death penalties should be carried out within 6 months of conviction. No later. Any judge, prosecutor or police officer found to have been knowingly party to falsely sentencing someone to death (e.g. by extracting false confessions, faking evidence, ignoring evidence), should be put to death. The cases of those sentenced to death can be appealed and re-opened any time, even after the sentence has been carried out.

Simple balance. That should make judges, prosecutors and police VERY careful about handing down death sentences, and the truth will eventually come out.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

the voters in these polls never hear any other view than their own, probably, knee-jerk reaction.

Not so much a knee-jerk reaction, more a case of what they learn in school. I was appalled when my son's high school class had a so-called morality class in which pupils were basically taught that the death penalty is a Necessary Evil. It seems a good number of the kids must have come from Asahi-reading families, because nearly half the class insisted to the end that the teacher was Wrong. This was a good school where the kids were encouraged to think for themselves and state their opinions - imagine the situation in the kind of school where kids are taught there's only one right answer and you'd better memorise it for the test.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Japan is like Texas in a way that you either get life (with parole possible many years later) or death. Would life without parole be good for this country?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The facts of this article are incorrect. Masahiro Kanagawa did go on a stabbing spree but he only managed to kill 1 person, injuring 7 in addition to another person he killed prior to the spree. Shoddy journalism take a bow.

Shoddy comments notwithstanding here how can anyone come to the conclusion that just because or only because 1 person was killed that it takes away from the rampage/spree? 7 others were injured in the attack.

Did they all have to die for you to accept the facts that it was a stabbing spree?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

.

I was appalled when my son's high school class had a so-called morality class in which pupils were basically taught that the death penalty is a Necessary Evil

Japan is one of the few countries that I know of that has state-sponsored so-called "morals" education in schools. From ES through HS.

There is an effort afoot to make that class as well a graded class as well. I know quite a few teachers that are appalled at the idea of trying to grade a subject that is supposed to be centered on one's own beliefs and heart, and are worried about interjecting their own beliefs to the students, even though they may be against or different from what the "state" tells them to teach.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Good get rid of them do not need them using my taxes for eating and recreation. Social programs to get better and be put back into society? what ever, a joke. You take a life you do not deserve one either. Good on Japan.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Frungy

Which one is really "cruel and inhumane", keeping someone who knows they're innocent alive to suffer an incredibly empty and rigid existence in prison for 20 years, or executing them and releasing them from their suffering?

I suspect that you would be singing a different tune if you were the one falsely accused and erroneously sentenced to death.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Capital punishment, which is irreversible

So is imprisonment, unless you have a time machine.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

@tkoind

i don't think the death penalty serves as a deterrent. it more accurately serves a measure of revenge. and on that premise, i wholeheartedly agree with it.

and it's fine if you disagree with japan for having the death penalty but calling it "backwards thinking" is ridiculous. each country/person has a right to their own moral code.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I don't agree with the death penalty, but I'm not buying this "Japan is wrong because it sees the justice system as a means of revenge, not justice". I would say that in most countries around the world, even many of those that have got rid of the death penalty, it's common for people to equate "justice" and "revenge".

Also, it's quite legitimate to argue that the death penalty is justified as a means of preventing dangerous people from harming society again. Weighed against that is the need to ensure that people aren't wrongly convicted, of course. But that doesn't mean the initial argument that the death penalty might be a good idea is invalid.

I would also argue that the "death penalty isn't a deterrent" argument isn't all that helpful, given that many people say prison doesn't work either. But we're not going to get rid of long prison sentences or prison altogether, are we? The community needs to feel safe, even if criminals aren't being rehabilitated. Is that justice, or actually a cruel and unusual punishment?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Simply stated this is one of the most debatable in the criminal justice system. There will always be many pros and cons to the death penalty issue. However if people weight the arguments properly, and have empathy for the innocent victims, they will be more inclined to favor the death penalty. In my opinion that's why a large percentage of the Japanese favor it. After all life is sacred and anyone who takes a life should have his own life taken away, too. Again capital punishment is a extremely sensitive issue and you do have to weigh both sides of the argument carefully and make a decision based on the action that will serve the best humanitarian purpose of the criminal law.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

What this really shows, is the vast majority of the j population is not capable/ willing/ having it occurred to them to think critically about their justice system and how it works. With the police all-powerful and extracting confessions in 99% of the cases, and those confessions holding water in court, it is a no-brainer that capital punishment is an unfair punishment. Ppl really don't seem to want to confront this in their society, it is just knee jerk, if someone killed, let them die.

Never mind the usual arguments against the death penalty. We just can't accept it with no accountability in law enforcement.

(My own personal view, aside from the probs specific to jpn, is it really should be reserved for when there is clear and overwhelming proof of psychopathically sick dangerous ppl, sadistic murderers, and serial killers. "crimes of passion", fights, revenge, etc should all be just life).

2 ( +4 / -2 )

humane for the humane

the rest, snuff 'em

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Capital punishment, which is irreversible

@Nessie "So is imprisonment, unless you have a time machine."

LOL! hahaha

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

My wife is Japanese and I asked her about this and what her opinion was, she said, "I don't think I want my taxes being used to keep someone alive in jail for murdering another person. If they can pay their own way, keep them in jail, if they can't then what's the point of me having to pay to keep them alive. If they can work and pay that's ok too"

She has a point.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

I am not against the DP but with Japans god awful "justice" system, the land for forced confessions, place where evidence is commonly withheld, where the keystones mostly exhibit an embarassingly low level of competence.........................

I think the DP should only be used in slam dunk cases, the rest get life.

But what Japan really needs to to overhaul the whole sick system as its rife with incompetence, sloppy investigations, or no investigation at all(hello forced confession!), the J-system as I have said MANY MANY times is th ENVY of dictators worldwide!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Well, Yubaru, I have heard that argument many times from Japanese so it could be another one that is disseminated by the hang 'em brigade in Japan. Is there any evidence that real tax money is saved by the death penalty though? I mean, it sounds like it might be cheaper to kill than keep but how about the reality? How much does it cost the state to kill, for example? These kind of figures should be available in any debate on the death penalty but that debate is resisted. But more than that, if there is budget then there is incentive to maintain it. Given that, how much tax would be actually be saved? I would suggest it would actually amount to nothing. I mean, look at how much tax is wasted anyway with barely a murmur from the people.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

As always, these hangings drew outrage from Amnesty International and the Japanese Federation of Bar Associations who made a statement saying they find “these executions unacceptable.”

I find the murders of innocent people that these murderers commit are unacceptable. So good riddance so the bad apples.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

to the bad apples*

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

USNinJapan2Feb. 26, 2013 - 04:40PM JST I suspect that you would be singing a different tune if you were the one falsely accused and erroneously sentenced to death.

A short sharp drop vs 20 years surrounded by people who view you as subhuman and treat you like it, being denied freedom of movement, being denied access to my loved ones (who probably wouldn't want to see me anyway).... I'd take the short sharp drop thank you very much, without hesitation. Maybe history would clear me, maybe it wouldn't, but at least I wouldn't walk out of prison a shattered, resent-filled shadow of the person I was before, I would die as myself.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Well done Japan... Those figures are pretty clear... Put them down and move on. Arguing on behalf of murderers or pedophiles rights is weak.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Wuw and i have always believed that Japan is a well developed country, guess what even i can be wrong :/

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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