A major report on the application of the death penalty, The Death Penalty in Japan, was released on 12 March in Tokyo. The report describes how Japan is failing to meet its legal obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on the death penalty and provides an assessment of public attitudes to the death penalty in Japan.

The Death Penalty Project, published this excellent report  in association with the Centre for Prisoners’ Rights in Japan, and co-written by ADPAN member Maiko Tagusari, Secretary-General of the Centre for Prisoners’ Rights, Professor Johnson, University of Hawaii, and Dr Mai Sato, from the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford. It provides:

  • background to Japan’s obligations under the ICCPR, ratified by Japan in 1979; it  demonstrates that Japan is failing  to meet the requirements of the ICCPR in relation to fair trial guarantees, procedures for appeal and clemency, as well as the humane treatment of isomers facing the death penalty; and
  • challenges the notion that majority public support for the death penalty is an obstacle to abolition and presents the findings of three surveys conducted by Dr Mai Sato and a critique of the Japanese government’s public opinion survey.

Saul Lehrfreund, co-executive director of The Death Penalty Project, said: “…This report demonstrates an urgent need for Japan’s government and judiciary to reform the use of the death penalty pending its abolition. We hope this report will be of great interest and concern to all those who seek to bring about improvements in the processes and conditions under which the death penalty is enforced in Japan and its eventual abolition".

The copy of the news release  includes a link to the full report in English and can be viewed here. The launch was recorded live at the British Embassy in Japan and can be viewed here.