EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: ASA 22/14/93
UA 420/93 Executions / Fear of further executions 29 November 1993
JAPAN DEGUCHI Hideo, aged 70
SAKAGUCHI Toru, aged 57
KOJIMA Tadao, aged about 56
Amnesty International is gravely concerned that four people, including a
70-year-old man, were executed at Tokyo, Osaka and Sapporo Detention centres
on 26 November. These bring the total of executions so far this year to seven,
which is the highest number of executions in any one year since 1976. The
executions came just three weeks after the UN Human Rights Committee recommended
that Japan take steps to abolish the death penalty.
Amnesty International fears that further executions may be imminent. There
are 55 prisoners under sentence of death in Japan whose appeals have been
Deguchi Hideo and Sakaguchi Toru were executed on 26 November at Osaka Detention
Centre. They had exhausted their appeals in 1984 and had faced execution since
then. Kojima Tadao was reportedly executed on the same day at Sapporo Detention
Centre. He had exhausted his appeals in 1981. A fourth, as yet unidentified
man, is believed to have been executed at Tokyo Detention Centre.
In Japan executions are carried out in secret and are not announced to families
and lawyers until after the event. The Ministry of Justice always refuses to
confirm that executions have taken place. The family of Sakaguchi Toru only
found out that he had been executed when they received a telephone call from
Osaka Detention Centre the day after his execution.
Executions were resumed in Japan in March 1993 when three prisoners were executed
after a de facto moratorium of three years and four months (see UA 90/93, ASA
22/05/93, 29 March). The huge increase in executions since then goes against
the worldwide trend towards abolition of the death penalty and appears to
contradict the advice of the UN Human Rights Committee, made after it had
examined Japan's third period report under the ICCPR.
There is an active and growing abolitionist movement in Japan. Those in favour
of abolition include more than 230 members of the Diet (Japanese Parliament),
lawyers, academics, a former minister of Justice and a former Supreme Court
judge. Concern about continued use of the death penalty has been voiced recently
by members of the judiciary.
These are the first executions to have been carried out since the new government