‘Abolish Death Penalty’, Urges Amnesty International Japan

Amnesty International calls for the abolition of the Japanese death penalty after three prisoners are hanged.

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.

Therefore, when the Japanese Ministry of Justice announced on February 21 that three inmates had been hung that morning, Amnesty immediately issued this report condemning the the act.

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)

高麗棒子 <丶`∀´>(gao…)さん:

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!!

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  • AnthonyLudovici

    lol the only countries where these arguments from emotion gain any traction are western ones.

    Libs <3 Criminals wherever though. There is no such thing as individual responsibility, it's always "society's" fault.

    • Pickle

      Libs do that by blurring the distinctions of right and wrong. They’ll justify anything to meet their agendas.

  • Anon_1

    I agree with the netizens.. death penalty should not be abolished.. this is to incite fear to people to prevent serious crimes from happening..

    • AnthonyLudovici

      Death penalty works as a deterrent only when it’s used publicly. Public executions I agree with, as well as placing heads on pikes as a warning to others.

      Most people will think I’m joking, but I’m not.

      • Kate

        No anthony, I think most people here know you sincerely believe in your trolling.

        • AnthonyLudovici

          I’m not trolling. Rapists, pedophiles, serial killers… They need to die.

        • LaoShu

          then let’s start with trolls…

      • Can we start with Anthony Ludovici?

        Most people will think I’m joking, but I’m not.

        • Hongwu Emperor

          Can we start with those that support criminals instead?? ;D

        • AnthonyLudovici

          >An Ashkenazi Jew is a left-liberal

          Color me surprised.

          • I’m not sure how supporting the death penalty against neo-Nazis makes me a left-liberal.

          • AnthonyLudovici

            Godwin after just a single reply, someone notify Guiness World Records!

          • Right, because insulting someone for being Jewish has nothing to do with neo-Nazism.

            I guess you weren’t content on just being a sexist loser. A well-rounded connoisseur needs a hearty dose of racism as well. You’re out to make quite a name for yourself.

          • Oy Vey

            Actually, that’s absolutely right, it has no more to do with Nazism than insulting someone for being French has to do with the Romano-Gallic Wars.

            And he didn’t insult you, he made a sarcastic comment about the fact Ashkenazi Jews lean very heavily leftwards (except where Israeli domestic policy is concerned, when they suddenly become hardline nationalists), a phenomenon he’s hardly the first to observe.

          • Spare me the semantics bullshit. Insulting someone for being French is Francophobic, regardless of the Romano-Gallic Wars. And if you prefer to label incriminating someone for being Jewish anti-Semitic or more accurately anti-Jewish (since you’re clearly a sucker for semantics) instead of neo-Nazi, I don’t really give a shit, because the point is that he used my presumed ethnic identity against me, as if me being Jewish removes the legitimacy of what I have to say.

            Then there’s the fact that I didn’t say anything leftist (and am not a leftist), making him not only an asshole, but an ignorantly presumptuous asshole.

            Then there’s the fact that I’m not even really Jewish, and he merely looked up my surname on my Google Plus profile and let the stereotypes fly. It would be the equivalent of me unloading a bunch of moronic Mafia stereotypes against him, under the premature assumption that he must be Italian and therefore OF COURSE he’s going to have a fetish for capital punishment! What murderous Italian criminal thug doesn’t??

            (Relax, I’m only referencing a widely observed historical phenomenon!)

          • Oy Vey

            But it does remove the legitimacy of what you have to say, since Jewish liberals generally turn into hardened ethno-nationalists as soon as the topic of Israeli policy comes up (see the recent action over the East African refugees over there).

          • You’re still not getting it. I’m not a “Jewish liberal”. I’m an agnostic multiracial individual with multifaceted views (none of which I’ve even discussed here).

        • aak

          one less redneck would definitely help in increasing the globe’s iq

  • I personally don’t believe in ‘an eye for an eye’ and killing someone because they killed someone else does not bring back the dead nor really makes anything ‘even.’ People say that I wouldn’t think like this if the situation happened to me… but many who say that also haven’t had that situation happened to them…

    • AnthonyLudovici

      lol, just like Tookie Wiliams eh?


      I personally do believe in an “eye for an eye”. Just my personal beliefs and if others don’t believe that it’s okay too. But when you think about it the death penalty often isn’t an “eye for and eye”. If the victim died a long, slow death, it isn’t equal to quicker, less painful death of the murderer.

      • Hongwu Emperor

        I also believe in that. besides, international amnesty has no better thing to do? lol

  • dim mak

    >Moral arguments

    Tell the hippies to go fuck themselves

    Besides, what does it matter
    Japan only executes like… 3 people a year

    Get on my level son

    • Hongwu Emperor

      Besides, people are ranting for small talk now…

    • TSDown

      Just because someone makes a moral argument does not automatically make them a hippy. Or are you saying guilt and punishment in the justice system should be determined based on criminal acts alone? Or that the campaigns in Libya, Syria and Mali appeal to emotion but are in fact solely pragmatic in nature?

  • I’m not sure if japanCRUSH really picks the most representative comments, but they’re often frustratingly one-sided, and this article takes the cake. Not a single argument, just appeals to emotion (in the opposite direction of Amnesty). Considering that the Japanese legal system is quite interesting, that’s a little disappointing. This article has some more data on false convictions in Japan: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2012/03/25/national/lay-judge-death-sentences-must-be-unanimous-jfba/, and I was looking forward to the comments because I’d heard of this “quirk” before: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criminal_justice_system_of_Japan#Conviction_rate

    • besudesu

      What you see here are the most upvoted comments from the Yahoo! News article — we didn’t ‘pick’ them per se. For example, the first comment you see is the most upvoted; this was upvoted 14,209 and downvoted 383 times. There are of course many Japanese people who don’t think this way, but we don’t attempt to represent those; we simply translated the article as closely as possible from Japanese into English, so you experience the article as a Japanese web user might. Sadly, this often makes for uncomfortable reading, just as it would from an English language site that allows comments on news articles. Simply put, we don’t see our role as being one where we ought to editorialize the news; we just want to make it transparent.

      As for the Japanese legal system, well, things like false convictions have been big news for quite some time. An excellent film was made on the matter called ‘Sore demo boku wa yattenai’ [Even so, I didn’t do it] dealing with the false conviction of a man who was accused of groping someone on the train. It is based on a true story of a man who successfully fought a guilty plea, and was released to co-incide with the new jury system — if you haven’t seen it already I really recommend watching it to see how the system worked back then.

      Prior to the introduction of the jury system in 2009, not guilty pleas were practically unheard of once a case got to court. I remember visiting a 70-year old ex-judge at his offices near the Osaka high court around 2003, where he was one of only about 5 laywers prepared to take ‘not guilty’ pleas. At that time the conviction rate was over 99%…

      So I agree, it is sad that the most upvoted comments don’t reflect the complexity of the situation, but there you have it. If I have time I will look at Twitter comments to see if they contradict these Yahoo! comments, and if they do I will update the article accordingly.

      • Thanks for the extremely insightful reply!!

        I’ve downloaded the movie a while ago, but planned to see it when my Japanese had gotten better – I guess I’ll give up and watch it today 🙂

        • besudesu

          It’s really worth seeing! I hope you enjoy it…

      • AnthonyLudovici

        >It is sad that the entire world isn’t a left-liberal

        Have you ever thought that the strictness of the Japanese criminal justice system (along with the strictness of their immigration system) is part of the reason they are such a safe country?

        If you liberals opened their borders and got rid of the aforementioned strict criminal justice system, would you be prepared to take responsibility for the consequences (higher criminality, less safe nation), or would you just resort to blaming “rich white men” or “corporations” or something?

        • HaakonKL

          But other Scandinavian countries are also really safe, and their justice systems are not that strict at all.

          • Rutim


        • aak

          yawn…another redneck with his shitty anti left propaganda

    • AnthonyLudovici

      frustratingly? You liberals posture at representing the majority, yet the anti-death penalty argument (which is really fallacies underlined by a giant appeal to emotion), is generally supported overwhelmingly by a liberal cultural/academic elite.

      Anti death penalty arguments are moral masturbation.

      Let’s introduce the death penalty for those who traffick drugs and ruin lives through addiction too! Upvote if you agree with me.

      • TSDown

        He said the comments posted for the article appeared one-sided, that is all. Why must everything be liberal or conservative to some people? Can they not think for themselves and develop their own opinions without resorting to stereotypes?


    Personally I’m for the death penalty, not because I think it acts as a deterrent or the ultimate punishment, but because it’s the only way to be sure the perpetrator doesn’t commit another crime. I think it should only be used in extreme cases, such as serial rapists and murderers, and not applied arbitrarily like in some countries. I also think life in prison is a greater punishment than a quick death so the death penalty would be used purely to make sure no one else is victimized.

    • fsck

      I personally agree, if there is 0 chance of rehabilitating a person then
      there is no reason why tax payers should pay to keep that person alive.
      Prison is supposed to be a punishment, the UK prisons are reforming to
      stop inmates have such a comfortable life. But prisons no 1. priority in
      my mind should be about reforming the prisoner, thats ultimately how
      you stop them reoffending

      • EightNineBall

        I concur. For all the same reasons both of you have already stated and more. One of the worst serial killers in history, Edward Kemper slayed his grandparents as a child. At the age of 18, he was released from prison only to go on a massive killing spree that would shock America.

        It should be used very sparingly though and only for lost causes, ie those prisoners that continue to be a threat even behind bars.

    • AnthonyLudovici

      Notice how liberals never take responsibility for recidivism as a result of early parole?

    • TSDown

      I agree with most of your points but here’s a question: would that apply to corporations as well? If corporations are considered legal persons in the court of law, would you also be in support? How would punishment be given; to a single individual or the whole? Or should the entire corporation be ‘executed’ as a natural person would be? Is murder limited to actions committed by an individual or a group of individuals who are not incorporated?

      Suddenly moral arguments do not seem so bad.


        You mean terminating a corporate entity? That’s an entirely different matter than executing an individual. I really don’t fully understand you’re question.

  • Elf Queen

    Death penalty should be as it is a case by case decision.

    Lets take an extreme example. We had a famous case in New York supposedly safest neighborhood Borough Park of a 9 year old walking like 3 blocks home from school.He got lost,asked a guy for directions.The guy took him home and then to a wedding and chopped him up into pieces and kept the pieces in his freezer.They caught him,he confessed,body parts found. He is in jail.Now ask me if I think he deserves the death penalty. Hell yeah,he is!

    USA argument against it: morality,cost of execution.
    If I understand it correctly Japan hangs the criminals. So I say why a lethal injection here? Someone like this guy needs to be hanged,a rope is damn cheap!

    • You’re a clueless fuckwit.


      The Innocence Project has released over three hundred innocent people, men and women who were falsely convicted by corrupt court and public persecutors. Several of them were on “death row” and would have been killed without being guilty.

      If you are dumb enough to believe that a few innocent dead people should be killed along with guilty people, then volunteer yourself to be killed first. If not, STFU.

      When innocent people can be brought back from the dead, you’ll have an argument. Until then, you’re as much a sociopath as the people you want to see killed.

  • I admit the concerns provided in this article, but I can’t be satisfied with Westerners. They disregard our view of life and death, and religion.

  • The Death Penalty in Japan perfectly shows the problem with capital punishment. I’m sure at least some of you have heard of the murder of Junk Furuta, an utterly disgusting act. Now in this case the murderers (among many things, none pleasant) walked away with less than a decade in prison, except the leader who got 20. This shows just how faulty the system can be when there is disagreeing evidence. And on the opposite end we have the West Memphis Three. In this system which is far from perfect we can’t allow any sentence to be irreversible, if turns out a convicted child rapist is innocent there isn’t a lot to be done if he’s rotting in a state cemetery.

    And for all you people who say that violent justice deters crime, I’d like you to look back at the mediaevals, when one skinned faulty judges alive and had their skins hang in the court. Did they have less crime? No, quite the opposite.

  • MeCampbell30

    The Japanese sound just like Americans.

  • Whirly Pop

    Frankly, I think death penalties aren’t that huge of a punishment at all to the perpetrator.

  • Pingback: Defending Capital Punishment in Japan · Global Voices()

  • The day that murdering prisoners becomes acceptable is the day that innocent people can be brought back from the dead.

    Until then, it’s a worse crime than those being “punished”.

    Cameron Todd Willingham of Texas not only lost his wife and child in an accidental house fire, as shown by independent investigations by human rights groups. The criminal “prosecutor” (persecutor is more like it) in Texas falsified evidence and suborned perjured testimony to falsely convict Willingham. Willingham was wronged again, murdered by the state of Texas in 2004.

  • Lynn

    Amnesty International has one goal here, which is to impose its moral standards on others against capital punishment. Feel free to ignore them, Japan.

  • Daniel Burke

    Amnesty International is a disgusting organisation that only ever cares about the criminals. Over 80% of the Japanese electorate want the death penalty. Amnesty International is asking the Japanese government to be undemocratic. Go away AI. You are not wanted or needed.

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