Japan: medical action: death penalty
Nine prisoners have been executed in Japan over the past two years, with the condemned only informed a few hours before their execution, and their families only after the event. There are currently about 90 prisoners under sentence of death. Several prisoners held on death row, in one case for 34 years, were acquitted after a retrial and were released, raising the possibility that innocent people may have been executed in the past. Many prisoners have been held under sentence of death for many years, four for over 20 years. Several are now in their sixties and seventies. There is also concern that mentally ill prisoners are on death row, one of whom, Kawanaka Tetsuo was executed in March 1993, despite the fact that the authorities were aware of his mental state and that he had applied for a retrial. There is further concern at the possible role of medical personnel in executions.