Human Rights Commissioner Bärbel Kofler on the latest use of the death penalty in Japan

27.12.2018 - Press release

Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (27 December) on the latest use of the death penalty in Japan:

I was shocked to hear that the death penalty has been carried out again in Japan. Two people were executed in Japan on 27 December 2018, bringing the number of people executed in the country since December 2012 to 36.

The death penalty is an inhuman and cruel form of punishment. The German Government rejects the death penalty under all circumstances and will continue to work with its partners in the European Union to actively campaign for its worldwide abolition.

Germany and Japan are close partners and work together in a spirit of trust on many issues. I would therefore like to ask the Japanese Government to reconsider its current practice and to suspend further use of the death penalty. There is an open discussion in Japanese civil society on the abolition of the death penalty. I welcome this discussion, which forms a crucial basis for dialogue.

Background information:

Two people who had been sentenced to death were executed in Japan on 27 December 2018. One was 60 years old; the other was aged 67. Both men had been sentenced to death for the murder of two people in 1988.

Including these latest executions, 36 people have been put to death in Japan since Prime Minister Shinzō Abe took office in December 2012. In 2018 alone, the death penalty was used against 15 people. Those sentenced to death do not know about the imminent execution until immediately beforehand and thus have no opportunity to say farewell to their families, who are only informed about the execution after the event.

There are currently 110 prisoners on death row in Japan.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations takes a clear position and calls on the Japanese Government to introduce life sentences and to end capital punishment by 2020. Amnesty International Japan also condemns the Japanese Government’s decisions to carry out the death penalty.

The number of countries that have abolished the death penalty or no longer carry it out is growing – 103 countries, more than half of all countries in the world, have completely abolished it. In total, 139 countries no longer carry out executions. At a plenary session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in mid-December 2018, 121 countries voted for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.


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