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FORUM-ASIA condemns the Japanese government for executing three more inmates

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Three more death row convicts were executed in Japan on 1 February 2008. FORUM-ASIA urges the Japanese government to implement the global moratorium on the death penalty and move towards the abolition of the death penalty from its legislation.
FORUM-ASIA strongly denounces the recent execution of three convicted inmates in Japan on 1 February 2008 and expresses its deep concern over Japan’s seeming disregard for the global moratorium on the death penalty. The executions are a step back from the current trend around the world towards the abolition of the death penalty.

On 19 December 2007, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a landmark resolution calling for a global moratorium on the death penalty. Many human rights groups welcomed this development since the death penalty is considered a gross violation of human rights. It is a form of cruel and inhuman punishment and a violation of the right to life. It appears, however, that Japan, is refusing to pay heed to the said resolution by pushing  through with the executions of Masahiko Matsubara, 63, Takashi Mochida, 65, and Keishi Nago, 37. These executions are the first ones done this year in the country.

The executions were carried out under the orders of Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama, who has signed execution papers for six inmates since he took office in late August last year. This pace is said to be quicker than his predecessor's, which was about three executions every four months. Hatoyama had mentioned earlier that there should be an "automatic" procedure for an execution, so that it can be carried out without requiring the justice minister to sign the papers.

FORUM-ASIA urges the government of Japan to implement the global moratorium and move towards the abolition of the death penalty. FORUM-ASIA further urges the government to ratify and implement the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCP-OP2) which aims for the abolition of the death penalty by State Parties.

Japan will be one of the countries to be reviewed by the Human Rights Council for the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in May 2008. In this light, FORUM-ASIA also encourages Japan’s civil society to include in their reports to the UPR the noncompliance of Japan of the UNGA’s call for a global moratorium on the death penalty. As one the world’s leading developed countries, Japan needs to set an example for other Asian governments which still continue to impose the death penalty. It should take the lead in moving towards its abolition setting an important step in the promotion and protection of human rights in Asia.


Last year, nine people were executed in Japan, the highest number executed in the country within the span of one year since 1977. On 7 December 2007, three convicted inmates were executed. It was the first time that the Justice Ministry released the names of individuals slated for execution publicly, a new policy that was intended to gain support for the death penalty from the Japanese public. Currently, it is believed that there are over 100 people on death row in Japan.

For more information, please contact Ms. Emerlynne Gil, Human Rights Defenders Programme Manager, at [email protected] .