EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: ASA 22/07/95
30 May 1995
Further information on UA 380/94 (ASA 22/09/94, 21 October 1994) and follow-up
(ASA 22/11/94, 2 December) - Fear of imminent executions
JAPAN FUJIOKA Eiji, aged 40
SUDA Fusao, aged 54
TANAKA Shigeho, aged 70
Amnesty International is gravely disturbed that three people, including a
70-year-old man, were executed at Osaka and Tokyo Detention Centres on 26 May
1995. They had been convicted of robbery and murder and kidnapping and murder
at trials which may not have met all international standards for fairness.
Amnesty International fears that the Ministry of Justice may have ordered more
Suda Fusao had been under sentence of death for eight years and Tanaka Shigeho
for 17 years. They were executed at Tokyo Detention Centre. Tanaka Shigeho
had claimed that following his arrest in October 1976 he was not advised of
his right to a lawyer and further that because he had no money he did not request
that one be hired for his case. Fujioka Eiji had been under sentence of death
for 12 years and was executed at Osaka Detention Centre.
Executions are carried out in secret without the prisoner being informed in
advance. The prisoners executed appear to have been selected in an arbitrary
fashion from among more than 50 prisoners whose death sentences were upheld
by the Supreme Court. The evidence suggests that in recent years these
decisions have sometimes been based upon political expediency or the personal
conviction of the Minister of Justice in office at the time.
The resumption of executions in March 1993 brought to an end a three-year
moratorium on executions. Seven men were executed in 1993 and two in 1994 and
some 57 others, including three women, are believed to remain under finalized
sentence of death. By ordering the executions on 26 May Justice Minister Maeda
Isao becomes only the second Justice Minister in a period of 10 years to order
two series of executions, the other being Justice Minister Shimazaki in 1985.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases, on the grounds
that it constitutes the ultimate form of torture and inhuman punishment and
that it is a violation of the right to life. In its report Japan: The Death
Penalty: A Cruel, Inhuman and Arbitrary Punishment, dated May 1995 (ASA
22/03/95), Amnesty International calls on the Japanese government to cease
executions permanently, impose no further death sentences, to commute all
existing death sentences and abolish the death penalty in law for all offences.
It also called upon the government to order an independent inquiry into reports
of illegalities at the pre-trial stage, including reports of ill-treatment,
coerced confessions and inadequate access to legal counsel.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes and airmail letters
either in English or in your own language:
- expressing grave concern about the executions of Fujioka Eiji, Suda Fusao
and Tanaka Shigeho, the first to be carried out in 1995;