JAPAN. LAWYERS COMPLAIN TO UN OVER RISING EXECUTIONS
May 8, 2008: Japanese lawyers criticised the rising number of executions carried out in the country, saying Tokyo was out of step with world opinion. The delegation from the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) urged the government to immediately impose a moratorium on further executions after 13 people were killed in the last twelve months. In a submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council, which is reviewing Japan's record as part of its Universal Periodic Review process, the JFBA said it was "gravely concerned that the death penalty is being more widely applied and lacks appropriate institutional guarantees".
"The Japanese government is against the world trend to abolish the death penalty system," JFBA member Emi Omura told journalists.
"In China or the United States the death penalty is still existing but the number of executions is sharply declining, but in Japan the number of executions and death sentences is sharply increasing," he added. The country has come under fire for telling inmates of their executions only shortly before they are taken to the gallows in a bid to prevent last-minute appeals.
The UN's top human rights official Louise Arbour criticised Japan last December when it executed a 75-year-old man convicted of murder. "It is difficult to see what legitimate purpose is served by carrying out such executions of the elderly," Arbour said. (Sources: Agence France Presse, 08/05/2008)