British Ambassador Tim Hitchens communicated his concern on Japan’s employ of the death penalty for criminals. Hitchens urged the government, specifically lawmakers, and the Japanese public to engage in a debate on the use of capital punishment.
Speaking at a symposium in Tokyo, Hitchens said, ‘The death penalty hurts human dignity. It cannot be proved to have deterrent power against serious crimes and it brings about an irreversible outcome in case of misjudgments.” Further adding that, “We cannot have a prefect judicial system.” The death penalty has been long abolished in about two-thirds of the world’s governments. He cited Britain, which has “decided to abolish the death penalty and worked for leading its people” since its last execution in 1964. Stressing that, “It is the duty of a government” to guide its citizens. He noted how in Japan, details of an execution are kept private and prisoners waiting on the death row are not informed beforehand of the date and mode of their execution. Families of the inmates, along with the public, are only told of the hangings afterward.
Also present at the symposium organized by the Japan Federation of Bar Associatons was Keio University law professor Tatsuya Ota. Ota noted how vague the timing for hangings is. From 2003 until 2012, inmates sentenced to death have an average of 5 years and 7 months from the passing of the sentence until the actual execution. But from August 27, 2012 onwards, 31 of those on death row have been in prison for more than a decade already, and 4 have remained there for more than 30 years, in clear reference of the ambiguity of the timing of an execution. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations has already sought an audience with the government in hopes of having a debate to finally abolish capital punishment.
[via Kyodo News]