The Japanese authorities’ reprehensible execution of two people today, continues to place the country on the wrong side of history, Amnesty International said.
Yasutoshi Kamata, a 75-year-old-man, was hanged in Osaka Detention Centre on Friday morning. Junko Yoshida, 56, was hanged in the early hours of Friday morning at Fukuoka Detention Centre, in southern Japan. Yoshida is the first woman to be executed in Japan since 2012.
“These disgraceful executions demonstrate a failure of leadership by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe,” said Hiroka Shoji, East Asia Researcher at Amnesty International.
“It is long overdue for Japan to abolish this ultimate cruel and inhumane punishment.”
The executions are the first to be carried out in Japan in 2016, and takes the total number of executions under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s current government to 16.
Junko Yoshida was sentenced to death in 2010 for the murder of two people, in 1998 and 1999. Yasutoshi Kamata’s death sentence was confirmed in 2005, after he was convicted of the murders of five people between 1985 and 1994.
Japan is among a small, shrinking minority of countries around the world that continue to execute people. As of today, 102 countries – more than half of the world’s countries – have fully abolished thedeath penalty, and 140 countries globally have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.
The Japanese government maintains that the continued use of executions is supported by public opinion and acts as deterrent for serious crimes.
“The Japanese authorities’ willingness to continue with executions means the country is out of step with the majority of the world, as more and more countries abandon this cruel punishment,” said Hiroka Shoji.
“There is no evidence that the death penalty is any more of a deterrent to violent crime than imprisonment.”
Amnesty International has called on Japan to immediately introduce a moratorium on executions, as a first step towards abolition of the death penalty.
Executions in Japan are shrouded in secrecy with prisoners typically given only a few hours’ notice, but some may be given no warning at all. Their families, lawyers and the public are usually notified about the execution only after it has taken place.
Secret executions are in contravention of international standards on the use of the death penalty. This and the lack of other adequate legal safeguards for those facing the death penalty in Japan has been widely criticized by UN experts.
This includes defendants being denied adequate legal counsel and a lack of a mandatory appeal process for capital cases. Several prisoners with mental and intellectual disabilities are also known to have been executed or remain on death row.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime, the guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the offender or the method used by the state to carry out the execution. The death penalty violates the right to life and is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.