The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe carried out eight executions in Japan this 2013, with the hangings happening every few months. This despite the continued pressure from Western countries for the Asian superpower to do away with the death penalty.
At the end of 2012, there were 133 inmates on death row who had their sentences finalized, with eight of them being executed in February, April, September and December. Three of the death row inmates died from various illnesses within the year as well. As of December 26 this year, there are now 130 inmates with confirmed death sentences. In the next few years, hangings will be carried out in cases that were handed down by courts who had lay judges. This system was introduced in May 2009, wherein professional judges worked alongside citizen judges that were chosen by lottery in serious criminal cases. The sentences in these trials are usually either life imprisonment or the death penalty. In 2013 alone, five inmates received capital punishment under the lay judge system. All in all, 20 individuals have already been sentenced to death under this system, with four having their sentences finalized.
The international community has long been critical of Japan’s insistence in carrying out capital punishment. The mostly European voices have called this the biggest human rights problem in the country. They have conducted symposiums in Japan, calling for a review of the legal system and ambassadors of the European Union have released statements calling for the abolition of the death penalty. But despite that, there has been little domestic debate as the return of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party has mostly silenced lawmakers who were anti-death penalty advocates.
[ via Asahi Shimbun ]
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