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It is not appropriate to abolish capital punishment in the country as the majority of citizens think the death penalty is unavoidable for atrocious crimes.

34 Comments

Justice Minister Katsutoshi Kaneda (Jiji Press)

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It depends on the question asked, the amount of open debate, which includes all the arguments about forced confessions and wrongful convictions, and whether there is a true commitment to human rights. Without this the alleged public opinion is rather meaningless. And, in this case, "public opinion" is being allowed to stand in place of a government failure to base the death penalty on some supposed deterrent effect or simple revenge.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Is his claim based on recent poll results, or guesswork?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

or simple revenge.

If my loved one had just been murdered by some scumbag, I'd be quite happy with some revenge, thank you very much.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Moonraker - Agree totally.

And this is just classic Govt Inc spin. Let's apply the same logic for arguments sake to -

"It is not appropriate to use nuclear power in the country as the majority of citizens think the risk is unacceptable".

"It is not appropriate to change article 9 in the country as the majority of citizens think it goesa against pacifism"

The bottom line with the death penalty - all supporters of such, support killing. No escape clause. No squirrming. Fact.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Yes, browny1, public opinion is just expedient here, however specious. And, as you say, it is just as likely not to be applied when it is out of kilter with government policy or plans. But as a deterrent effect the death penalty is not viable, and in fact can act, and has acted, as a motivation for murder. Revenge is troubling as a justification in a system that is open to the injustices so frequently seen in Japan, but if the Justice Ministry simply chose that one it would make more sense. At root I don't think there is any firm commitment to the death penalty from any other point of view than it benefits a certain group of people with power or a budget, since that is how most things get decided or prolonged in Japan. The justifications are cobbled together later from wherever they can be.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

If Japan abolished the death there would be a huge outcry....from the public.

Crime victims are routinely shown in TV and newspapers, demanding "the ultimate punishment."

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Crime victims are routinely shown in TV and newspapers, demanding "the ultimate punishment."

Yes, I am sure they are shown that way, since that is the official position. We probably would not expect TV and newspapers to go too much into the finer points of death penalty justice or injustice, contrary to Justice Ministry policy, and lose their place at the news briefings under the kisha club system.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Moonraker and browny1

100% spot on.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Death penalties make a nation look like barbarians and uncivilized. At least California has on the ballot for the people to choose not the politicians as For the people by the people. The death penalty is most common in 3rd world nations withe low educated populations. Time to change and progress to the higher level of humanity and end blood lust situations. If the polls say the people want it then have a real vote and practice the will of the people not the politicians. Let Freedom ring and Rule of the masses and lets see if Democracy is alive and well!

0 ( +5 / -5 )

But they don't take the public's opinion into account on any other state issues except to say, "We will convince you!", so why only speak on their behalf (without asking) on this one?

4 ( +7 / -3 )

The teenager from Kobe who decapitated a mentally hanicapped child and stuck his head on a school gate back in the 90s is rumored to be living under a new name and identity in my area. I'm more concerned with keeping the sickos locked up (regardless of age) for their lifetime than killing these sick dogs.

Make the punishment fit the crime where murder is concerned. If you can't shoot 'em, then lock 'em up for life. Don't ever let this scum run loose again in society, especially for those who kill just for the thrill of it.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Crime victims are routinely shown in TV and newspapers, demanding "the ultimate punishment."

Part of that will be reporters directly asking still-grieving families, "so do you want him killed then?" as if a) it's the most natural thing in the world for them to want it and b) there is nothing strange about recently-bereaved families having to talk to the media in the first place.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Given the amount of war and killing going on in the world, Japan choosing to have the death penalty doesn't feel like high up on a list of injustices.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Death penalties make a nation look like barbarians and uncivilized.

Really? I could easily say "xxxxxx make a nation look like barbarians." But that would simply reflect my lack of understanding and stridency. It's typical to say that cultural differences make someone look like a barbarian, but it's an intemperate opinion and no more. Look at the gang-infested south side of Chicago, where there is no death penalty, and tell me that any city in Japan is uncivilized by comparison.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

"Death penalties make a nation look like barbarians and uncivilized"

I always think a look at the most enthusiastic executioners is good to see what kind of neighborhood you live in. 2015 saw China leading the pack with followed by countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, the US, Egypt, Iraq, Somalia, Indonesia and Chad. North Korea would no doubt be up there if stats were available.

Charming neighbourhood.

Japan isn't the most productive member of the community but I'm sure this administration wouldn't mind doing a bit more.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Logical fallacies that hamper the thinking of the justice minister include: affirming the consequent (if A, then B; if B, therefore A), the existential fallacy (universal premise, local conclusion) begging the question (conclusion=premise), the moralistic fallacy (factual conclusion based on evaluative premises) the appeal to popularity/bandwagon argument (because everyone believes that...), post hoc ergo propter hoc (cart before the horse/correlation is causality), and the straw man argument. For starters....

Given the obvious inability of those in the highest reaches of the Japanese judiciary to apply basic rules of logic, is it any surprise that the justice system so often ends up being so unjust?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

That's the problem I have with the "barbarians and uncivilized" moniker. It is almost always applied to non-Europeans, usually by a white person with a comfortable upbringing. It is almost never applied to Europeans, no matter what atrocities they might commit.

Argue against the death penalty if you wish. But any argument is undermined by the implied racism of calling a culture barbaric or uncivilized. Funny that my position should attract so many downvotes here.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

any argument is undermined by the implied racism of calling a culture barbaric or uncivilized.

It isn't the culture that is barbaric or uncivilised, it's the death penalty.

It is almost never applied to Europeans

Since not having the death penalty is a prerequisite to joining the EU, you'd have trouble applying criticism of the death penalty to Europe.

Funny that my position should attract so many downvotes here.

I think it was perhaps the comparison between yer typical Japanese city and a gang-infested US city that got you most of those....

1 ( +3 / -2 )

the majority of citizens think the death penalty is unavoidable

More like, the majority of Japanese politicians think discussion of the death penalty is avoidable.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

It isn't the culture that is barbaric or uncivilised, it's the death penalty. That's splitting hairs, especially since the original reference specifically said the "nation" looked like barbarians (plural). He/she was clearly referring to the people, not to the practice.

Since not having the death penalty is a prerequisite to joining the EU, you'd have trouble applying criticism of the death penalty to Europe.

For all the criticism I have heard of the Belgian atrocities in the Congo and the German atrocities during the last war, I don't recall ever hearing them called uncivilized or even barbaric. To the contrary, references to the Germans often express befuddlement at how such a civilized country could be so evil. But if it's Asians or other non-Europeans engaged in so much as killing a whale, the barbaric and uncivilized comments flow. My comment stands

Funny that my position should attract so many downvotes here. I think it was perhaps the comparison between yer typical Japanese city and a gang-infested US city that got you most of those....

You are probably right. I was going to compare it to Walmart during pre-Christmas sales, but it was hard to pin down a location. Please let me amend that and compare Shibuya to similar parts of London on a Saturday night. Or any Japanese festival you choose to Notting Hill Carnival (345 injuries, 4 stabbings, and 100 arrests). But of you agree that capital punishment does not make a nation less civilized than nations without it, we don't have to go there.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

commanteer:

To say you are going off on a tangent would be exceedingly kind to you. The death penalty is barbaric, and with the highly visible and uncomfortable exceptions of Japan and the USA, the countries which retain it do feature a certain type of government and social system which is not a million miles away from 'barbaric'. That has nothing to do with the peoples or the culture of those countries, just the political systems.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

To say you are going off on a tangent would be exceedingly kind to you. The death penalty is barbaric

It's not a tangent because the presumption of barbarity essentially ends the debate without addressing any of the points raised by the other side.

It's not all that different from the abortion debates in the USA, where many opponents of abortion see it as barbaric murder, plain and simple. I think that position is equally intemperate to calling capital punishment barbaric. They both preclude any further discussion or satisfactory settlement of the topics. After all, who can support barbarism and murder?

Personally, I lean against capital punishment, but admit there are many compelling reasons to support it. It's an ugly subject, and societies often avoid honest discussion of ugly topics. The name calling further closes off that discussion.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

“No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.” Albert Einstein

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The death penalty as a punishment for the most heinous crimes is fine by me. Some people think it's barbaric? Do they realize that in general the people who are being executed have committed the most heinous of crimes? Some punishments FIT the crime. If someone killed another person in cold blood deliberately it's not an injustice to the now dead and their families that the murderer die. As a matter a fact it's the natural response most adults would have when they realize that someone else has killed someone in their family.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

@commanteer

Calling something barbaric and uncivilised doesn't shut down the debate. It means it should be met with counter arguments explaining why it isn't barbaric and uncivilsed. You are implying a valid point of view is somehow below the belt because you don't like the point of view. You mentioned avoiding "honest discussion of ugly topics" as a negative thing and then get offended by an honest point of view.

My honest point of view is capital punishment is uncivilised and barbaric.

It's up to you to tell me why it isn't, not to tell me that my honest point of view isn't acceptable.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Firstly, the original post suggested Japanese people were barbaric and uncivilised. Now that has morphed to capital punishment itself, which is more defensible.

If in fact I have an obligation to persuade you that it's not barbaric, then you most certainly (by using inflammatory language) have an obligation to explain why it is barbaric. But you be starting at a disadvantage by setting that term in the first place.

When you see a culture practicing something you see as barbaric, is the best way to change their practice to start out by calling it barbaric? Of course, it suggests the person supporting act is also barbaric and immediately puts them at odds with you. Why not simply explain your position without the barbs if you really want to change minds?

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

I personally have no problem with the idea of capital punishment. I think some people forfeit their right to life through their actions.

But, I can't support capital punishment, because humans are not infallible. People make mistakes, and capital punishment is too absolute, meaning that errors cannot be fixed. There isn't any 'oops, we killed you, but actually it turns out you didn't do it'. The person is just dead.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@commanteer

Yes, and in a debate I'll tell you why I regard executing people as barbaric. I don't see why calling a practice 'barbaric' is inflammatory. The 'honest debates' you are fond of require honesty and that can offend delicate sensibilities.

Also, the original post said "look like barbarians". It doesn't say they are barbarians. My poor Chinese makes me look like an idiot when I speak it but I'm slightly above idiocy. I think the fact that my country, the UK, only fairly recently outlawed the barbaric and uncivilised practice of hunting foxes with hounds and that it still has large support makes them look like barbarians.

Let's be honest and not so emotional here.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Argue against the death penalty if you wish. But any argument is undermined by the implied racism of calling a culture barbaric or uncivilized. Funny that my position should attract so many downvotes here.

Not at all unusual. I get it all the time even when I just correct postings that contain blatant factual errors.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Modern usage of the term "barbaric" has certainly become toned down in it's implied intent. It still has heavy negative baggage but no more so than a multiitude of other terms.

I agree the term can denote a believed elevated status to the utterer, but so can calling someone a fool. Any racist connotation is simply in the mind of the beholder.

Commanter - In my opinion the term "evil" is far more loaded. I can refer to the babaric manners of the people I'm dining out with, with zero notions of bigotry, but calling them evil elevates it all to another plane.

Many of us have moved on from the colonial idea of barbarism.

And I believe killing people is barbaric.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Also, the original post said "look like barbarians". It doesn't say they are barbarians. My poor Chinese makes me look like an idiot when I speak it but I'm slightly above idiocy.

That was a fine job of hair splitting! I am sure that walking up to a large man in a bar and telling him he looks like an idiot would be received quite differently from just telling him he is an idiot.

I think the fact that my country, the UK, only fairly recently outlawed the barbaric and uncivilised practice of hunting foxes with hounds and that it still has large support makes them look like barbarians.

Now I suspect you are patronizing me! And I have never thought of fox hunters (cruel as the practice is) as barbarians or uncivilized. I admit the thought did cross my mind one Saturday night in Covent Garden though, but I had enough sense not to say it out loud.

Let's be honest and not so emotional here. Not being emotional at all. Just pointing out that accusations of barbarism are unhelpful and likely to offend. That may work in a debate where you are trying to win over an already sympathetic audience, but would be counterproductive if you were trying to win over a person who believes capital punishment has a place in society.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

When you need an excuse use the public. Whether the majority of Japanese want or do not want the death penalty (an open question) it should be abolished as it violates contemporary international standards of justice. The reason truly civilized countries (and states in the U.S.) have abolished capital punishment that it is ineffectual in stopping capital offenses and can in fact be as cruel and unjust as any capital offense. Poor innocent people are executed, who are either innocent of the crime they are accused of, or are mentally challenged, or in fact never committed what would constitute a capital offense.

Capital punishment poisons the body politic, as it helps make what could be a humane society into a vengeful society.

Certainly criminals must be punished. But when punishment is given there should be an open question if the person might be innocent or at least mentally diminished.

Consider also who is executed and who is not. In the majority of cases it is someone without wealth or power.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

No problem with the death penalty. If the purpose of punishment is to protect the public, which I believe it should be, then the death penalty should be one of the options available.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Hanging is too good for them, make it more public, and more dramatic, as a deterrent to like-minded folk.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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