The International Commission against the Death Penalty (ICDP) visited Japan from 30 May to 2 June 2012 for meetings on the death penalty and to participate in a symposium on What Makes Criminal Justice Sustainable? The Symposium was organized by the Norwegian Embassy and Aoyama Gakuin University. (Photos by V.J.Luna, EU, 2012)
For further information on the symposium, please go to;
Mr. Bill Richardson, former Governor of New Mexico (USA) and member of ICDP, led the delegation.
Japan is an advanced democracy with the third largest economy in the world. It also has one of the lowest homicide rates of all countries. The death penalty is generally imposed for aggravated murder. There are an estimated 130 prisoners on death row.
There is little transparency about the use of the death penalty in Japan including the scheduling of executions. Prisoners are usually notified only a few hours before their execution. Family members and the lawyer are informed after the execution.
During the mission the ICDP delegation met with European Ambassadors and the Delegation of the European Union, the Japanese Federation of Bar Associations,the Center for Prisoners Rights and parliamentarians. These meetings provided an opportunity to learn more about Japan’s system of criminal justice and to discuss the death penalty and the global trend towards its abolition.
For further information on the meeting at the European Union Delegation to Japan, please go here
More than 140 countries – two-thirds of all states have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.
Japan remains an exception to this global trend. The last executions took place on 29 March 2012 when three prisoners were hanged in the prisons of Fukouka, Hiroshima and Tokyo.
In his speech to the Symposium on 1 June, Mr. Richardson welcomed the opportunity to learn more about Japan’s criminal justice system and its reliance on the death penalty.
He also spoke of his own journey from death penalty supporter to his signing while Governor the Bill that abolished capital punishment in New Mexico. Mr. Richardson urged Japan to establish a moratorium on executions and to implement an independent and comprehensive study on the future use of capital punishment. In concluding he hoped that Japan would, before too long, join the community of states that have abolished the death penalty.