13th Aug 2022

EU denounces Japanese executions

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has expressed "deep regret" after two men were hanged for murder in Japan on Wednesday and repeated a call for a moratorium on using the death penalty.

"I deeply regret the execution by hanging of Hidenori Ogata and Kazuo Shinozawa on 28 July 2010, and the fact that this marks the resumption of executions in Japan after one year during which none took place," Ms Ashton said in a statement on Wednesday.

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  • Relatives and lawyers of condemned prisoners in Japan are told only after the sentence has been carried out (Photo: decade_null)

The EU opposes the use of capital punishment "in all cases and under all circumstances" she added, with the Union keen to see a universal abolition of the death penalty.

The two executed men were Kazuo Shinozawa, 59, convicted of killing six women in a jewellery shop fire, and Hidenori Ogata, 33, who killed a man and a woman in 2003.

The secretly carried out executions were the first since the centre-left Democratic Party of Japan took power last September. Justice minister Keiko Chiba, who had ordered the hangings and witnessed the execution in person, proposed setting up a panel to examine capital punishment in Japan.

"It made me again think deeply about the death penalty, and I once again strongly felt that there is a need for a fundamental discussion about the death penalty," she told reporters after the execution.

Ms Ashton said she welcomed "the latest efforts by the minister of justice to foster public debate in Japan about the death penalty and her decision to set up a panel to study the issue."

As an elected member of the upper house of the Japanese legislative body, Ms Chiba led a group of MPs opposed to capital punishment, but she left last September after being appointed justice minister.

Her appointment was seen as a sign that debate could be opened on the issue.

Apart from the United States, Japan is currently the only industrialised democracy which uses capital punishment, usually for multiple homicides. According to a government survey carried out in February, more than 85 percent of the public support the death penalty.

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