Monday, April 09, 2007

Execution in Japan

The Japan Times has a series of articles concerning execution in Japan. In a country in which over 99% of people arrested for crime are convicted and apparently only 4 people who have been on death row have had their sentences reversed because they were found not guilty, and in a country in which it is unconstitutional to convict a person based only on confessions but there is an overwhelming reliance on them, you don't wanna be guilty and arrested here. You don't wanna be innocent and arrested either. Either way, you'll likely end up in the same place.

In the early post war years, Sakae Menda was arrested for a theft and during the 23 day period in which the Japanese police are allowed to hold a person without charge:

During interrogation, the 23-year-old was starved of food, water and sleep and beaten with bamboo sticks while being suspended upside down from a ceiling. Menda signed a statement written by the cops and was convicted of double homicide on Christmas Day 1951.

He was released in 1983 as even the Japanese court system recognized that the confession was tortured out of him.

He points out that the system that tore his life apart is still unchanged: the police can still hold a criminal suspect for 23 days without any judicial oversight; confessions still carry enormous weight, with over 99 percent of criminal charges ending in victory for the prosecution -- and the condemned are still kept in solitary confinement with virtually no chance of a reprieve.

"The powerful have the upper hand here," he says.

"I went to see the police when I was released, and I asked them how they felt about what they did to me. They told me they were just doing their job."

He remains pessimistic that the system will change...

"I heard that a judge once said it was natural to sacrifice one or two citizens for the sake of Japan's judicial stability. "

Full story HERE. There are two other related articles.

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