Subject: [cwj 34] Japan: Secret executions
From: Corporate Watch in Japanese <>
Date: Sat, 10 Jun 2000 21:18:22 -0700
Seq: 34

* News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty
International *
Amnesty International public document
AI Index ASA 22/003/2000
News Service Nr. 108
6 June 2000


Secret executions

Up to nine prisoners under sentence of death may be executed secretly in
Japan on or around 9 June, Amnesty International warned today calling on
the government to declare an immediate moratorium on all executions.

"The prisoners, their lawyers and their families are unable to obtain
official confirmation of the names of those scheduled for execution. If
the Japanese government is not ashamed of the death penalty, why do they
continue to execute in secret?" Amnesty International asked.

There are fears that the Minister of Justice could already have signed
the order for these executions on 5 June and that they are intended to
signal the government is tough on crime ahead of parliamentary elections
scheduled for 25 June.

The Japanese government orders the executions of prisoners every summer
and winter, when the Diet (parliament) is in recess to avoid public and
parliamentary reactions to the use of the death penalty.

The arbitrary selection of prisoners for executions by the Ministry of
Justice is seen to be an attempt to minimize public opposition to the
death penalty.

Three of the nine had appealed for clemency, one of which was rejected
in late May 2000. The outcomes of the other two are not known. Four of
the nine submitted habeas corpus petitions in December 1999, and another
lodged an appeal for a retrial.

As in similar cases in 1999, Amnesty International fears their
executions will go ahead even though these appeals have reportedly not
yet been decided.

Citing biased Japanese government surveys, advocates of the death
penalty in Japan claim that public support for the death penalty is
overwhelming. However, there was no significant opposition in Japan to
the de facto moratorium on executions of 1989-93. There are currently
around 100 people under sentence of death in Japan.

Many members of Japan's large anti-death penalty movement intend to
picket the four detention centres where the nine prisoners are being
held. A press conference calling for an end to executions in law and
practise will be organized by Amnesty International Japanese Section and
other anti-death penalty groups.

Amnesty International, International Secretariat, 1 Easton Street,
WC1X 8DJ, London, United Kingdom
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