Hangings in Japan a 'hugely retrograde step'

Japan’s decision to hang three prisoners after nearly two years without executions in the country is a retrograde step, Amnesty International said today.

Justice Minister Toshio Ogawa authorised the executions of three men, hanged in jails in Tokyo, Hiroshima and Fukuoka, explaining that this was his “duty” as Minister.

Executions in Japan are by hanging and are usually carried out in secret. Prisoners are typically given little or no warning before they are executed.

Amnesty International Asia-Pacific Deputy Director Catherine Baber said:

“Today’s hangings are a hugely retrograde step – they bring Japan back into the minority of countries which are still executing.

“Justifying acts which violate human rights as a ‘Minister’s duty’ is unacceptable. Rather it is the responsibility of leaders to address crime without resorting to the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.”

Tomoyuki Furusawa, 46, was executed at Tokyo detention centre; Yasuaki Uwabe, 48, was executed at Hiroshima detention centre; and Yasutoshi Matsuda, 44, was executed in Fukuoka. Uwabe’s lawyers had raised concerns over the fact that he suffered from mental illness but the courts ruled he was competent to stand trial.

Two days ago, Amnesty published its report on the state of the death penalty worldwide , noting the positive development that Japan had not executed in nearly two years.

Amnesty called on Japan to join the more than two-thirds of countries worldwide that have abolished the death penalty in law or practice, and declare a moratorium on executions as a first step toward abolition.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases as a violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

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