DEBATE ON DEATH PENALTY IN JAPAN
March 16, 2008: the debate over capital punishment has resurfaced in Japan, particularly following Justice Minister Yukio Hatoyama's controversial recommendations for automatic executions without an order from the justice minister.
He ordered the hanging of six inmates between December and February. In the face of growing public sentiment seeking tougher penalties following a series of vicious murder cases, a group of bipartisan lawmakers opposing the death penalty are now working to compile a package of bills aimed at setting strict rules on handing down death sentences under the citizen judge system. â€śOur bill will require a death sentence to be handed down only by a unanimous vote of nine judges, not by a majority vote,â€ť said Nobuto Hosaka, who serves as the secretary general of the Japan Parliamentary League against the Death Penalty.
The 70-member group also aims to revise the criminal code to introduce life imprisonment without parole.
The lawmakers expect their proposals to curb the increase in death sentences. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations submitted a report to the UN panel seeking suspension of executions, saying, ''To continue capital punishment under the current circumstances violates'' the international covenant on civil and political rights. (Sources: Kyodo News, 16/03/2008)