- By James DownieJames Downie is an editorial researcher at FP.
Two days into its new government, the Democratic Party of Japan is wasting no time setting new policies for the country. Yesterday, the Defense Minister suggested a withdrawl from Afghanistan; today, the country looks set to suspend use of the death penalty.
The new Japanese Government has in effect suspended the death penalty by appointing an outspoken opponent of capital punishment as Justice Minister.
Keiko Chiba, 61, a lawyer and former member of the Japan Socialist Party, has the final say in signing execution orders for Japan’s 102 death row inmates.
Although she has declined to say explicitly whether or not she will authorise them, her 20-year-long record as a death penalty abolitionist makes it a certainty that hangings will be put on hold.
The article goes on to note that the United States would now be the only “industrial democracy” to still use capital punishment. However, a look at Amnesty International’s list of “retentionist” countries does show that the death penalty remains on the books in several of the largest developing nations, including India and China. Those looking for meaningless correlations should also note that other “retentionist” countries include North Korea, Chad, and Sudan.
YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.| Passport |