The use of capital punishment in Japan has always been a contentious issue. While Japanese society generally supports the use of the death penalty in extreme cases (statistics show that fewer than 100 prisoners have been executed since 1950), there have been examples where those on death row have been pardoned, and also where the Minister of Justice has refused to sign death warrants on personal grounds.
By far the largest critic of the Japanese capital punishment system, however, has been the human rights’ organisation Amnesty International. While Amnesty does not support the use of capital punishment in any nation, in the Japanese case the treatment of prisoners on death row has been a particular cause for concern, with evidence suggesting that prisoners are coerced into signing confessions without legal representation, and refused food, water, and toilet facilities during their detention prior to trial. Retrials are infrequent, and conditions in detention centres that hold prisoners awaiting execution are said to be harsh. Prisoners often spend long periods of time in detention centres before their death warrants are signed, only being informed of execution on the morning of the day it is scheduled to take place; relatives are not informed until after the event.
The short article below attracted the most comments on the Yahoo! Japan news site, with the most upvoted comments revealing Yahoo! netizens’ unwavering support for the death penalty, contrary to the pleas of more moderate voices in Japan.
From Yahoo! Japan:
Amnesty Criticizes Japan’s Use of Death Penalty
On February 21, the human rights’ organisation ‘Amnesty International Japan’ announced that regarding the use of the death penalty on three people: ‘We strongly criticize the government standing by the capital punishment system, and the government’s declaration of intent that following the change in administration the use of the death penalty will be made more consistent. The government should suspend use of the death penalty, and promptly begin a broad-ranging societal debate geared towards abolition of capital punishment in Japan.
Comments from Yahoo! Japan:
The capital punishment system is necessary!
If you’re criticising the death penalty, then what are the victims and the family they left behind supposed to think?
Would you still be against it if someone you loved was killed by a psychotic murderer?
Here they are, the critics.
Try complaining to the victims that the death penalty should be abolished.
Fine, they let Amnesty pick up the tab for looking after death row prisoners.
The capital punishment system is set out in Japanese law. It’s the Minister of Justice’s job to protect the law.
I support the capital punishment system.
Think of how the victim who was murdered by the prisoner that got the death sentence, and how their family, would feel!
Stop carping on! What we really should be protecting is the dignity and honour of the victims, that’s the human right of the family they left behind, there’s absolutely no need to protect the criminal.
If you’ve got time to criticise Japan, how about sorting out China and Korea?
‘The government should promptly begin a broad-ranging societal debate geared towards abolition of capital punishment in Japan.’ The capital punishment system has been trashed like this before, but never once has it resulted in a huge debate . It seems that we’ve already concluded that the death penalty is necessary in Japanese society.
This just sounds like they’re defending murders. People are being murdered! (sob)
These bastards don’t say anything about the human rights of the victim who was mercilessly slaughtered by the prison who is facing the death penalty, do they…
Don’t nitpick over the sovereignty of another country!
I guess that the abolition of the capital punishment system in Japan is a difficult matter. Amnesty’s insistence on abolition just sounds hysterical.
They’re executed because they got the death penalty. Not executing people who are given the death penalty won’t have the same effect.
You can understand this by looking at Amnesty’s home page, but they add ‘-san’ [polite suffix like 'Mr.' or 'Ms.'] to the names of all the prisioners who were executed under the death penalty. This is a heartless action that grates on the emotions of the victim’s family. You can really see how little Amnesty thinks about the victims’ families and so on when they’re attaching ‘-san’ to their friends who are unsatisfied even after murder.
Hey, Amnesty-san. Shut the hell up! Zip it!!
They should be prioritising the feelings of the victims’ families!!