On the Japanese death penalty

Inmates on Japan’s death row are not notified of the date or
time of execution until an hour or so before it occurs. Former prison
officials suggest that some condemned are extracted from their cells
on the ruse that they are “wanted in the office”.7
At most, the aboutto-be-killed
are given only enough time to clean their cells, write a
final letter, and receive last rites. Death penalty supporters have
called this sudden “your-time-has-come” policy a “surprise attack”
(damashi-uchi). Whatever the nomenclature, what it means is that the
condemned live for years not knowing if the present day will be their
last. Sakae Menda, who was exonerated and released in 1983 after
spending 34 years on death row, had this to say about Japan’s prior
notification policy: “Between 8:00 and 8:30 in the morning was the
most critical time, because that was generally when prisoners were
notified of their execution…You begin to feel the most terrible
anxiety, because you don’t know if they are going to stop in front of
your cell. It is impossible to express how awful a feeling this was. I
would have shivers down my spine. It was absolutely unbearable.”8

Relatives of the condemned are told of the execution after the
fact and are given twenty-four hours to collect the body.

29 thoughts on “On the Japanese death penalty”

  1. Again this is a form of torture.

    If your family has been sadistically murdered then it might serve them right for a short while–to reflect the torture and torment the malefactors have dealt out.

    But any decent person should be able to see how it stains their own soul to be tormenting others–even rotten evil others- for years or decades on end. If they are to die set the date and do the job.

  2. I agree with Ecks, with one proviso.

    This is that the worst most evil scum should be tortured physically and mentally mercilessly before eventual death by execution at the hands of the state. Think the Ians Brady and Huntley, the Wests, the killers of Baby P and for good measure probably Arthur Scargill too.

  3. Whatever the nomenclature, what it means is that the
    condemned live for years not knowing if the present day will be their last.

    Don’t we all?

    Or do most people go around with an expiry date tattooed on their arse?

  4. “do most people go around with an expiry date tattooed on their arse?” That wouldn’t have been much use until mirrors were invented. And dates.

  5. Death penalty supporters have called this sudden “your-time-has-come” policy a “surprise attack” (damashi-uchi).

    The leopard hasn’t changed its spots.

  6. Shoka Asahara leader of Aum Shinrikyo which carried out the Sarin gas attacks in Tokyo was sentenced to death in 2004. He’s still alive. The Japanese sytem isn’t precipitate. Mass murder doesn’t earn many friends though.

    The death penalty applies for multiple or particularly egregious murders only. Wiki gives the execution rate between 0 and 15 pa (in 2008). The no-notice thing is to stop murderers from topping themselves before the hangman gets his turn.

    I’m not particularly in favour of the death penalty: mistakes can happen. The Japanese appeal process is thorough and lengthy, not exactly “given a fair trial, taken out behind the bike shed and a bullet in the back of the head” stuff. The law has a duty to protect society from some people. Thats where the multiple/egregious murder thing comes in.

  7. Ian Reid–To paraphrase Gandalf while I may be quick to deal out judgement , actual deaths are another matter and not to be taken lightly. Even tho’ some necks do need and deserve stretching

    A last resort hopefully.

  8. Top tip.

    If you come to Japan, planning on mass murder or egregious rape and murder (as in pulling a schoolgirl off the street, raping and murdering her), don’t come here. You will have a decade or two to mull over the options..

    Alternative: move to Yorkshire. They were just asking for it.

  9. Minimal notice of execution: good (and far preferable to the sadistic American system of notifying prisoners three months in advance, then suspending the procedure when they are already strapped to the equipment).

    Keeping people on death row for decades: bad.

    When Britain had the death penalty, the execution date was set for just over three weeks after conviction and sentencing. An appeal would buy another three weeks. If the appeal failed and the Royal Prerogative of Mercy was not invoked, the actual execution would take 14 seconds from the moment the hangman entered the condemned cell.

  10. Probably the issue is that a surprise hanging is that the bleeding heart liberals don’t get forewarning to stage yet another fruitless appeal against the sentence.

    Lawyers hate having money taken from them.

  11. Bloke in Costa Rica

    I think they should make them roll a 20-sided die (as per Dungeons and Dragons) every day. If it comes up one they shoot them in the head. It would add a frisson.

  12. @TimN
    I’d consider having ‘Best before…” tattooed on my butt for added inducement. But I’d want the date done in washable felt tip.

  13. I would like to point out – for the aged the situation is similar. You know death will come soon and it might come suddenly. Not much is done to soften the passage.
    You can even spend your last days in a cell like structure.

  14. So Much For Subtlety

    john malpas – “You can even spend your last days in a cell like structure.”

    But no one is allowed to drug people on death row into a stupor or physically restrain them with straps if they talk back.

    I don’t think the Japanese mean to be cruel. It is just that for the West, it is important to give people a chance to tidy up their affairs – and go to confession before they start sinning again. For the Japanese I would guess it is important to live in the expectation of death. To live each day as if it was your last while not allowing the thought of death to become important. If you tell people when they will die, it means they get to obsess about it rather than cultivating a properly Zen attitude.

  15. So Much For Subtlety

    BraveFart – “I have another cvnt who should be on my list above to be mercilessly tortured before execution, this specimen, who got 18 years minimum for the murder and (it seems violent torture) of an 18mth old girl who was adopted by him and his *husband*.”

    18 years? So he will be out next week.

    In the meantime, no one is allowed to notice that this Gay couple murdered their adopted child. No one is allowed to point out that the best way to raise a child is with two married biological parents – and the further away from this the child is moved, the more harsh it is likely to be for that child.

    Any second Matt L will be along to tell us Gay parents are just as good as straight ones …..

  16. So Much For Subtlety

    No one is denying that heterosexuals commit sexual assault too. Although one of those shows signs of Recovered Memories. You are, I guess, smart enough to know that is not the issue.

    The issue is whether Gay “parents” are disproportionately more likely to commit sexual crimes against their children. Which given that Australia has had at least three cases so far looks very disproportional.

  17. I’ve shown you evidence before that it’s not disproportionate. It’s easy enough to find if you want to look for yourself.

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