BROADCAST OF EXECUTION FORCES JAPAN TO DEBATE DEATH PENALTY
May 6, 2008: the broadcast of the execution of a man more than 50 years ago is the first time most Japanese have been confronted by the grim reality of their country's use of the death penalty. Campaigners hope the documentary, aired by Nippon Cultural Broadcasting, will strengthen calls for Japan to abolish capital punishment.
The station defended its decision to air the execution amid accusations that it had invaded the man's privacy in his final, desperate moments alive. "We aren't trying to make a statement for or against the death penalty," a spokesman told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.
"Our only intention is to present the reality of executions and let our listeners decide for themselves." Others welcomed the broadcast for giving an unprecedented insight into Japan's secretive and, critics say, peculiarly inhumane use of capital punishment.
"If the justice ministry masks the reality, then it is up to the media to expose it," the filmmaker Tatsuya Mori told the paper.
"There is great significance in letting the public know the truth." The recording was made at the Osaka detention centre in 1955 to educate prison service workers. (Sources: Guardian.co.uk, 06/05/2008)