Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Japan minister seeks 'peaceful' executions
Japans justice minister, who has outraged humans rights groups by
proposing systematic executions, today called for a "more peaceful" method
of killing death row inmates than hanging.
Japan, the only major industrial nation other than the United States to
practise the death penalty, executes inmates at prison gallows under its
1907 penal code.
"I fully understand what is prescribed in the penal code, but frankly I
feel that there must be some more peaceful method," said Justice Minister
Kunio Hatoyama, who did not propose any alternatives.
"There should be room for consideration," he added as he answered a
question in parliamentary debate.
Hatoyama, the 59-year-old grandson of a former prime minister, came under
fire a month ago when he suggested death row inmates should be hanged
"automatically" without the usually required approval of the sitting
justice minister, saying it placed an emotional burden on that official.
Instead, Hatoyama said he wanted Japan to implement a little-enforced law
that requires the execution of inmates within 6 months of their final
Speaking shortly before he was re-appointed to his job when Yasuo Fukuda
became prime minister in September, Hatoyama said capital punishment was
necessary because "we have been seeing extremely violent, vicious crimes
in recent years."
"It plays a significant role in deterring serious crimes," he said then.
Hatoyama, whose remarks about the systematic executions sparked protests
from some 50 rights and legal groups, has not signed off on any executions
since he took office in August in a cabinet reshuffle by then premier,
Japan has executed 10 people since it resumed executions last year after
conservative Abe took office.
Up to then, Japan did not have executions for 15 months as the previous
justice minister, Seiken Sugiura, said the death penalty was contrary to
his Buddhist beliefs.
(source: Agence France Presse)
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