Japan: Visits & Communications
Correspondence from 2006
The record of correspondence for 2006 is excerpted from the official United Nations report, E/CN.4/2006/53/Add.1.
Violation alleged: Non-respect of international standards relating to the imposition of capital punishment
Subject(s) of appeal: 1 male
Character of reply: Allegations rejected but without adequate substantiation
Observations of the Special Rapporteur
While the Special Rapporteur appreciates the response of the Government of Japan, its refusal to either confirm or deny the execution of Mamoru Takuma obstructs the SR’s ability to clarify this case for the Commission on Human Rights. The SR appreciates that the Government has explained its rationale for secrecy. He considers the reasons given to be problematic in terms of the relevant human rights considerations and hopes to continue a constructive dialogue with the Government on this issue.
Allegation letter sent on 28 February 2005
Mr. Mamoru Takuma, aged 40, was reportedly hanged on 14 September 2004. Mr. Takuma was convicted of killing seven girls and one boy, aged 6 to 8, when he rampaged through a primary school in Osaka prefecture in 2001, injuring fifteen other people, including two teachers. He was sentenced to death in August 2003, with his sentence confirmed a month later. Mr. Takuma, who had reportedly previously received treatment for mental illness, never showed any remorse and allegedly asked for his sentence to be executed as quickly as possible. Reports indicate that the speed with which the sentence was carried out was unusual in the case of Japan. According to information I have received neither Mr Takuma nor his relatives were told of the impending execution until the day it took place. It is further reported that this is the general practice in all such cases and that the names of the persons executed are not made public in advance. Without wishing to prejudge the accuracy or otherwise of the facts as reported, I would request your cooperation in clarifying their accuracy and substance. I would also draw your attention in this regard to the observations relating to transparency in death penalty cases which are contained in my report to the Commission on Human Rights at its sixty-first session (E/CN.4/2005/7) an excerpt of which is attached.
Response of the Government of Japan dated 28 April 2005
1. Facts regarding execution of the death penalty. The Japenese Government does not make facts regarding execution of the death penalty public either before or after the execution, except for the information that executions have taken place and that a certain number of persons sentenced to the death penalty have been executed on a certain day. Therefore, it is not possible to answer whether or not a specific person has been executed. Further, with regard to the two persons who were sentenced to the death penalty and were subsequently executed on 14 September 2004, as in all cases the Minister of Justice issues the order of execution of the death penalty under our legislation after careful examination of the judgment and the documents of the case, and consideration of the existence of grounds for staing execution. Therefore, it is clear that the Japenese Government complies with international standards in executing the death penalty and that the procedures of execution are far from “extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary”.
2. Reason why the notification of execution of the death penalty is made on the day the execution is to be carried out. With a view to considering the feelings of the family members of those who have been executed, Japan would like to refrain from providing information on specific cases of execution. In principle, an inmate whose death penalty becomes final is to be notified of his or her execution on the day the execution is to be carried out, owing to the fact that notifying the inmate on a day that precedes the date of execution will have a significant impact on the emotional state of the inmate, thereby making it difficult for the inmate to maintain a calm state of mind. Article 74 of the Prison Law and Article 178 of the Prison Law Enforcement Regulations provide that the inmate’s relatives should be notified of his or her death after execution of the death penalty and that the body or ashes should be handed over to the relatives or other specific persons upon their request. Except for the above provisions, there are no legal provisions concerning notigication to the family of the inmate whose death penalty has become final. No ouside persons, including family members, are to be notified in advance of the date of the execution. This practice results from the viewpoint tha thet family may experience unnecessary mental anguish if they are notified ot the date of the execution beforehand. Further, if the inmate whose death penalty has become final were to learn of his or her date of execution during a meeting with family members who have been notified, as is the case if the inmate were to be directly notified, there would be a significant impact on the emotional state of the inmate, thereby making it difficult for the inmate to maintain a calm state of mind.
Correspondence from 2005
The record of correspondence for 2005 is excerpted from the official United Nations report, E/CN.4/2005/7/Add.1.
Type, date and summary of communication: Urgent appeal, 23 March 2004: Mukai Shinji, a forty-two-year-old prisoner who suffered from a mental health condition, was reportedly executed on 12 September 2003 at the Osaka detention center. Reports indicate that neither his family nor his counsel was informed of his execution. He was reportedly sentenced to death in February 1988 for the murder of three people in 1985 and had exhausted all appeals against his sentence since December 1996. According to the information received, his lawyer was preparing an appeal for retrial when he was executed.
Government reply: No response.
Correspondence from 2003
The record of correspondence for 2003 is excerpted from the official United Nations report, E/CN.4/2003/Add.1.
On 1 August 2002 the Special Rapporteur sent an urgent appeal to the Government of Japan regarding Omori Katsuhisa, aged 53, who was sentenced to death and was going to be executed on or around 2 August. According to information received, Mr. Katsuhisa was arrested on 10 August 1976 on charges of planting and detonating a bomb in the prefectural government building in March 1976 in Hokkaido, northern Japan. His death sentence was reportedly finalized when his appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court in July 1994. Mr. Katsuhisa’s lawyer was reportedly in the process of appealing against the judgement when he found out that Mr. Katsuhisa's execution could be imminent. Allegedly there is a trend towards carrying out more than one execution at the same time in Japan and concerns have been reported that other executions may also be carried out around this time. Executions are reportedly carried out in secret and there is no official confirmation of the names of those scheduled for execution.
Correspondence from 1983-2002
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions has been corresponding with Governments regarding alleged violations since the mandate was established over two decades ago. While the Project on Extrajudicial Executions is making efforts to provide easily browsed versions of as many years as possible, much of the earlier correspondence is available only in the PDF versions of reports from 1983 to the present.