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Further information on UA 90/93 (ASA 22/05/93, 29 March) - Japan: death penalty: Tachikawa Shujiro, Kawanaka Tetsuo, Kondo Seikichi

, Index number: ASA 22/006/1993

Amnesty International has learnt that Kawanaka Tetsuo, one of three prisoners executed in March in Tokyo and Osaka, was suffering from mental illness prior to his execution. Japanese law forbids the execution of prisoners suffering from psychiatric illness.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: ASA 22/06/93
Distr: UA/SC
17 May 1993
Further information on UA 90/93 (ASA 22/05/93, 29 March 1993) - Death Penalty
JAPAN:TACHIKAWA Shujiro, KAWANAKA Tetsuo, KONDO Seikichi
Amnesty International has learnt that Kawanaka Tetsuo, one of three prisoners
executed in March in Tokyo and Osaka, was suffering from mental illness prior
to his execution. Kawanaka's mental condition had apparently deteriorated in
recent months. In response to inquiries from his lawyer, the doctor at Osaka
Detention House had said that the prisoner was "on the verge" of becoming
schizophrenic and was showing signs of hallucinating.
Japanese law forbids the execution of prisoners suffering from psychiatric
illness. It is reportedly uncommon for prison authorities to admit that a prisoner
about to be executed is mentally ill. The statement made by the Osaka Detention
House doctor to Kawanaka's lawyer deepens Amnesty International's concern that
Kawanaka's execution may have been illegal.
Further, Kawanaka was about to submit a request for retrial. Shortly before his
execution, he had given to his lawyer powers of attorney to apply for a request
- a fact which, according to Kawanaka's lawyer, the Osaka Detention House
authorities were aware of. It would therefore appear that Kawanaka was executed
before all avenues for review or commutation of his sentence were exhausted.
The executions of Tachikawa Shujiro, Kawanaka Tetsuo and Kondo Seikichi drew
widespread criticism from many sectors of society, including lawyers,
politicians, academics and civic groups working against the death penalty. The
executions also led to extensive debate in both the international and domestic
media.
The Minister of Justice, Masaharu Gotoda, responded to the criticism by saying
that Japanese society was not ready for the abolition of the death penalty. He
said that ordering executions was part of his job and was necessary to keep law
and order and appeared to criticise his predecessors who had failed to order
executions out of personal conviction: "Judges hand down capital punishment
sentences under the existing system and it is wrong for justice ministers not
to carry out sentences out of a political decision". However, he said that the
death penalty "as an institution" should be reviewed.
FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and
airmail letters in English, Japanese or your own language:
- expressing continued concern about the resumption of executions in Japan after
a three-year moratorium;
- expressing particular concern about the legality of the execution of Kawanaka
Tetsuo, in view of his mental condition;
- stating that Kawanaka, like all prisoners under sentence of death, should have
been allowed to make full use of all avenues for review or commutation of his
sentence;
- reiterating Amnesty International's unreserved opposition to the death penalty
as a violation of the right to life and the ultimate form of cruel and inhuman
punishment.
APPEALS TO
1) Mr Masaharu GOTODA
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
1-1 Kasumigaseki
Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 100
Japan
Telegrams: Minister Gotoda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100, Japan
Faxes: +81 3 3592 7011 (c/o Public Information and Foreign Liaison
Office)
Salutation: Dear Minister Gotoda
2) Mr Kiichi Miyazawa
Prime Minister
1-6 Nagata-cho
Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 100
Japan
Telegrams: Prime Minister Miyazawa, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100, Japan
Faxes: +81 3 3581 2548
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister Miyazawa
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
diplomatic representatives of Japan accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or
your section office, if sending appeals after 5 July 1993.

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