Starting this Saturday, a theater in the Shibuya district in Tokyo will be screening consecutively for a period of one week nine films related to the theme of capital punishment. This is part of an event organized by Forum 90 called “Crime, Punishment and Forgiveness.”
Forum 90 is an organization that has campaigned for the abolishment of the death penalty in Japan since 1990. The death penalty in Japan has been criticized both locally and abroad for its secrecy. Death row inmates are only informed of their execution on the actual day and families and lawyers of the inmates are only notified afterwards. Last December, the United Nations adopted a resolution that urges member nations still implementing death penalty to issue a moratorium and to disclose information. Forum 90 member Masakuni Ota believes that death penalty enjoys popular support in Japan only because the secrecy of the system has kept citizens uninformed of the truths about capital punishment.
The nine films being featured for “Death Penalty Movie Week” include a 1969 documentary Serial Killer about Norio Nagayama, who was hanged in 1997 for killing four people when he was still a teenager. The theater will show films from other countries such as Bolivia, China, and South Korea, including a 1958 French movie titled Elevator to the Gallows. There will also be talks from guest speakers, such as anti-death penalty lawyer Yoshihiro Yasuda and Shoji Sakurai who was falsely accused in a 1967 murder case and acquitted more than 40 years later.