Japan: New Justice Minister Says Execution Should Resume

OGAWA Toshio, who was appointed Minister of Justice on 13 January, has said that he intends to resume executions. Last year Japan did not carry out any executions, for the first time in 19 years. The estimated 130 death row inmates are now at greater risk of execution.
The newly appointed Minister of Justice stated publicly on 15 January that he planned to resume executions, which he viewed as a responsibility of his job. His predecessor, HIRAOKA Hideo, came under heavy pressure to carry out executions in 2011, but did not do so, saying that the application of the death penalty needed to be considered more carefully before further executions were carried out.
Although all death row inmates are at imminent risk of execution, members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, including its leader, MATSUMOTO Chizuo (aka Shoko Asahara), who have been sentenced to death are less likely to be executed at this time. This is because a member of the cult, HIRATA Makoto, handed himself in to police on 31 December 2011, and it will take some time for his case to go through the courts. Under Article 475 of the Criminal Procedure Code, executions should not take place until all co-defendants have had their cases finalized.
Please write immediately in Japanese, English or your own language:
– Urge the Minister of Justice not to sign any executions warrants, and to support the work of the study group on the death penalty which was established in the Ministry of Justice in 2010 by former Justice Minister Keiko Chiba;
– Urge the Minister of Justice not to sign any executions warrants, and to support the work of the study group on the death penalty which was established in the Ministry of Justice in 2010 by former Justice Minister Keiko Chiba;
– Urge him to introduce a moratorium on executions in Japan and to encourage more national debate on the death penalty with a view to full abolition.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 29 FEBRUARY 2012 TO:
Minister of Justice
OGAWA Toshio
1-1-1 Kasumigaseki
Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo
100-8977
JAPAN
Fax: 011 81 3 3592 7008
Salutation: Dear Minister
And copies to:
Prime Minister
NODA Yoshihiko
1-6-1 Nagata-cho
Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo
100-8968
JAPAN
Fax: 011 81 3 3581 3883
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister
Also send copies to:
Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki, Embassy of Japan
2520 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington DC 20008
Tel:             202 238 6700
Fax: 1 202 328 2187
Please check with the AIUSA Urgent Action Office if sending appeals after the above date.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Executions in Japan are by hanging, and are usually carried out in secret. Prisoners are typically given a few hours’ notice, but some may be given no warning at all. This means that prisoners who have exhausted their appeal options must spend their entire time on death row knowing they could be executed at any time. Their families are typically notified after the execution has taken place.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the individual on whom it is imposed and the method of execution used by the state, as a violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The last execution carried out in Japan took place on 28 July 2010 when two people were hanged.
In October 2011, the previous Justice Minister, HIRAOKA Hideo said he would look at each death row case individually after Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura reportedly encouraged him to press ahead with executions. Amnesty International and the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) called on the Minister of Justice to refrain from carrying out executions.
Urgent Action Network
Amnesty International USA
600 Pennsylvania Ave SE 5th fl
Washington DC 20003
Phone:             202.509.8193
Fax: 202.675.8566
Source: Amnesty International, January 18, 2012
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