Japan’s Secret Executions

“I have reached the conviction that the abolition of the death penalty is desirable.” —Albert Einstein

In A Nutshell

Japan is one of the few nations in the world that still practices capital punishment. However, unlike American prisoners, Japanese convicts aren’t told when they’re going to die. Death row inmates are kept in isolation and total silence until a day when guards suddenly arrive and lead them to the gallows.

The Whole Bushel

Mention the words “capital punishment,” and you’re bound to get a strong reaction just about anywhere. It’s one of the most divisive issues in the world today, and while the majority of countries consider it immoral (over two-thirds have banned the practice), there are still several powerful nations that impose the death sentence. It’s well known the United States and China regularly execute offenders, but the island nation of Japan is also one of the few remaining countries that administers the death penalty. And it’s safe to say their treatment of death row inmates is so shocking that it makes Texas look tame in comparison.

At the very least, American prisoners are given a heads-up long before they walk the Green Mile. Japanese inmates are never told when they’ll be led to the gallows (and they are literal gallows, as Japan still carries out execution by hanging), so they spend every day of their imprisonment wondering when guards will show up to escort them to the death chamber. Obviously, this causes the prisoners a bit of anxiety, especially as some of them spend decades fretting over when they’re going to die, and Amnesty International worries that the stress of these secret killings are responsible for mental illness among death row inmates. It’s also torture for their families as relatives (and their lawyers) are only told about the executions after they’ve already happened.

In addition to the long waits and sudden hangings, prisoners are forbidden from speaking and are held in near isolation. They’re only allowed to exercise two or three times a week, but the rest of the time they’re forbidden from walking around their cells. They must stay seated at all times. They’re never allowed to talk to the press so they can’t share their side of the story or appeal for support, and no one is ever allowed to witness the executions. Despite pleas from around the world, Japan won’t be changing its policies anytime soon. Over 80 percent of the Japanese population supports the death penalty (compare that to the 60 percent of Americans who support it), and the number of secret executions has actually increased in the past year under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. While we can debate the pros and cons of the death penalty itself, there can be little doubt that Japan’s secret executions fit the definition of “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Show Me The Proof

Japan Keeps Executing Prisoners Without Giving Them Any Warning
A Secret Theater: Inside Japan’s Capital Punishment System
BBC: Japan death row ‘breeds insanity’
Gallup poll: Death penalty

  • himanshiarora

    What does it watch secret the Japan Execution?

    • Guest

      ^^ Spam – don’t click. ^^

      • lbatfish

        What? Spammers are now using Google Translate?

  • I would hate the idea of not knowing when death comes. Wait ….

  • Geralt of Rivia

    At least the japanese are not wasting the country’s tax money housing convicts like USA. Saves a lot of money if you ask me. Be like china, execute those high class convicts instead of housing them permanently WITH FOOD AND WATER.

    • lbatfish

      When you factor in the legal costs for appeals, it’s actually cheaper to keep them in prison.

      Unless you want to also eliminate the execution appeals process (which I imagine would also be favored by some).

      • inconspicuous detective

        one appeal, not multiple and it would be guaranteed. death penalty reserved for only offenses that carry two or more counts of the following crimes: rape, murder, molestation. crimes of passion would be ignored for instance when the death penalty is considered. initially, it sounds like a stretch but to convict someone of multiple counts of anything you need pretty damning evidence against them. i see no reason at all with keeping these people alive, except some sort of misplaced sense of humanity. well, to that i ask where the humanity is in showing those people mercy when they had shown none themselves? there is none. you prove nothing, save naivete.

        • Hillyard

          I’m pretty much in agreement with you on that. However I don’t see the need to treat the condemned cruelly as depicted in the article above. Allow their appeal, if denied the move quickly to execution, but allow them to socialize like the other prisoners until then.

          • inconspicuous detective

            i would have an opinion on it, but those people (the types i’ve listed) have long since given me no reason to care how they’re treated. if i were in charge, i’d be very, very slow investigating any claims like this.

        • Errkism

          You summed up exactly what I was thinking. I absolutely agree with the death penalty, for those who deserve it.

  • Hillyard

    Years or decades of total silence, no exercise then one day the guards show up and it’s over. Death would be a relief by then. I support a very limited use of the death penalty but what the Japanese are doing is just wrong.

    • Frodo28

      Yeah how dare they treat people who murder and torture others like that, that’s not fair!

      • Ryan

        Note the fact that they can’t appeal or try to get their side of the story out to the world. It’s quite likely that wrongly convicted innocent people have died like this, out of sight and out of mind from the rest of the world. And that terrifies me.

      • TyBH

        Japan has one of the most one-sided legal systems in the world. The prosecutors win in the vast majority of cases. If you’re brought to trial, you’re pretty well guaranteed to be convicted.

        Think about how many innocent people are possibly languishing away on death row there. At least here in the U.S. we have a mostly fair legal system.

  • norse of Melbourne

    I am all for the death penalty and I don’t have a problem with the way the Japanese deal with executions. Our government in Australia treats refugees harsher than it treats criminals.

    • Geralt of Rivia

      abbott views the refugees = criminals anyway
      in his mind, indonesia is a rogue nation

  • Fabia Walker

    When someone is convicted guilty we should execute them within the hour. Hell, have a noose already hanging out back of the court room. But also require more evidence to convict someone so you don’t kill any innocent people. I mean, murderers and rapists have it pretty easy, actually. Television, books, weight-lifting equipment, and they pay more on average for prison food than school food, so they’re eating better lunch than me. Let’s bring back the system from the old west. Shitty food, metal beds, unhygienic, any crime equals three years in jail, even if it’s small. I don’t think as many people would rob little thing from gas stations and shit if they weren’t gonna be able to eat real food, bathe, or take a dump in an actual toilet for three years.

    • RichardJames1953

      But how do we know when someone is really guilty?

      • Fabia Walker

        You don’t. But the only thing for sure in life is death.

  • Atlas

    “…..and Amnesty International worries that the stress of these secret killings are responsible for mental illness among death row inmates.” You know, the liberal part of me says that’s wrong, but after reading the details of some of their crimes, and learning of the reasons for their incarceration on death row……I really don’t give a damn about how stressed they are.

  • Exiled Phoenix

    What exactly would they do if you paced the room? Kill you a bit quicker… Beats sitting around.

  • Errkism

    What they need to look at to see which death penalty is more immoral is how many innocents are executed. In my opinion, that’s the most immoral aspect of the death penalty is the fact you will be executing some wrongly accused. If the person actually commit a terrible crime such as rape, murder, torture, etc then I don’t see an issue with letting them sit there like the Japanese are. Obviously they take it a bit over the top, but so did the individual who decided to end another’s life.