Japan suspends death penalty

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 ...

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Members of Amnesty International hold a rally to protest against Japan's death penalty in front of the national Diet in Tokyo on July 28, 2009. Japan has hanged three inmates convicted of multiple murders including a Chinese national and a middle-aged man who found his victims through an Internet suicide site. The government identified the condemned as Hiroshi Maeue, 40, Yukio Yamaji, 25, and Chinese national Chen Detong, 41, who had killed three of his compatriots and wounded three more Chinese people. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO (Photo credit should read YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

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

James Downie is an editorial researcher at FP.

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