August 27th, 2010
10:19 AM ET

Japan reveals long-secretive execution process

Red tape marks the trap door through which an inmate falls as he or she is hanged.

Japan, one of the few industrialized countries with the death penalty, showed one of its execution chambers to the media for the first time Friday.

Reporters were shown the death chamber at the Tokyo Detention Facility, one of seven used across the country, according to a report in the Mainichi Daily News.

Pressing a button in another room releases the trap door.

The unprecedented media access was ordered by Justice Minister Keiko Chiba, who after witnessing the deaths of two condemned prisoners last month, said she wanted to have a national debate on capital punishment in Japan, Mainchi reported. Chiba has previously spoken against the death penalty.

Execution in Japan is carried out by hanging.

The chamber showed to the media on Friday had no noose suspended from the ceiling but showed a trap door outlined in red. The condemned fall to a room below the execution chamber where their deaths are confirmed.

Reporters were not shown that room out of "consideration for the inmates' family and wardens," according to the Mainichi report.

A room where inmates are told they are about to be executed and can meet with a chaplain.

They did see other areas involved in the execution process, including the room where a button is pushed to release the trap door, a room where the condemned can get religious last rites or an entry room where inmates are told they are about to be executed.

In an accompanying article in Mainichi, prison officials described Japan’s execution process, long shrouded in secrecy.

The two men executed on July 28, Ogata Hidenori, 33, and Shinozawa Kazuo, 59, were the first put to death since the August 2009 elections in Japan, according to Amnesty International. The organization says 107 prisoners remain on death row in Japan.

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Filed under: Death Penalty • Japan • Justice
soundoff (610 Responses)
  1. John D Lamb

    Comments please.

    August 27, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Nebsy

    There's a lot of concern about the repercussions that capital punishment has on the family members of the guilty (or maybe even the innocent/wrongly accused).... what about the burden on the rest of us....???? WE are the ones who are paying for the life imprisonment of ???? how many convicts? Execution is NOT more expensive then life imprisonment. It is appeals that are expensive. Any country boy can carry out the punishment for about 45 cents and the use of a washrag to clean up. Execution is not expensive. We will never know whether it is a deterrent until we actually use it. Violent Crimes = One strike You're Dead. All others = 2nd Strike You're Dead. Then we will see a reduction in crime....immediately.
    Do you think any ex-con is going to commit a felony the second time when he knows he will be executed if caught. O.K. you can never discount stupidity.... but no doubt things would improve.
    Our penal system doesn't work. It simply allows tax payers a means of paying for the problem to be postponed... some of the problems are postponed long enough that they die in prison. But criminals make choices knowing (mostly) what the price is if/when they are caught. And they still make the choice to commit the crime. Penal systems only prevent crime when the penalty is extreme.

    August 27, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • freshveggie

      wow, nebsy. you sound dangerously stupid. you recommend death for ALL 1st time violent offenders? and death for all second-time offenders, period? so if i'm convicted twice of non-violent crimes like, say shoplifting, its death for me? think before you speak. also, capital punishment is more expensive than life imprisonment because the cost necessarily includes the appeals process. and most states do have the death penalty, and it hasn't shown to work as an effective deterrent to murders.

      August 27, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. sfsfsgss

    a shot through th ebrain would be much more reliable and quicker

    August 27, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Willie James

    The intellectual level of this conversation reminds me of Fox News.

    August 27, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. The Truth

    If they are being executed for murder, they should be killed in the same exact way their victim(s) were. Its neither cruel or unusual, its what they deserve.

    August 27, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. john

    for a people that say they are more advanced and evolved than the rest of us they have proven themselves wrong.

    August 27, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Krista

    The problem with the death penalty is that our justice system is not infallible. Innocent people _have_ been killed – murdered by the state. Until we can know for absolute certainty someone's guilt, there should be no debate on this issue. The life of one innocent is worth more than the satisfaction people get from killing the guilty.

    August 27, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. VOR

    It's not surprising that this article would attract such a flood of responses, a majority of which exemplify the genocidal nature that our society has turned to. The median IQ level is apparent by the cruel senseless statements which many posters have composed.
    If mankind is to ever evolves it needs to change from the primitive animalistic mindset which creates such sadistic vitriolic hate filled comments. As a society we should rise above and be better than the criminals you all seem so quick to condemn. If we ultimately put these individuals to death have we not become just like them?
    As one earlier post accurately pointed out approximately "half the cases the Innocence Project works on result in an overturned conviction. In about 40% of THOSE cases, a simple DNA test not only exonerates a man in prison, but also helps the cops find the ACTUAL murderer. So our system gets it wrong a huge portion of the time. It's not an anomaly....
    You can't take back the death penalty."

    August 27, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim Liao

      Can you sound anymore condescending? Don't give me this bull about how you think those who are against the death penalty are somewhat more intelligent than those against. It has nothing to do with intellect or like said before, it also has nothing to do with morality. The death penalty in our society is based on our Government's responsibility – to the best of it's efforts to impose a sentence for those who committed the act of murder, that would seem to come closest to bringing some semblance of justice for the victims of that crime. Your individual morality, the thing that makes you feel so good about yourself and what obviously makes it so easy for you to be so condescending to others, plays no part in our justice system. Our Governments role is not to forgive the criminal or play moral police by pointing out how much better we are than the criminal; that again is your individual morality and should play no part in determining justice in a case that doesn't involve you. If you are a victim and you choose at the time of sentencing to ask the judge for a non-capital punishment sentence because of your moral beliefs, then I say the judge should take that into consideration but if you have nothing to do with the case, then your morality should play NO part in determining whether if someone should live.

      September 1, 2010 at 3:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Tim Liao

      I don't believe your 40% statistic. That number is a complete hyperbole and is not accurate at all.

      September 1, 2010 at 3:15 am | Report abuse |
  9. Peter

    So let me get this straight, someone authorizes photos of the death chamber, to stir emotions in people enough to get them to detest the death penalty, but they didn't want to show the room below the execution chamber because it might have shown how horrible it really is? This does not make sense to me.

    August 27, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tele65

    capital punishment is not a deterrent because of the way it is dispensed. there are thousands of murders every year and at the most a hundred or so executions. If murderers were executed within a month of being convicted, THEN it would be a deterrent.

    August 27, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JohnnyJett and the Dirty Socks

    Probably dropped into luquid nitrogen, no mess, stays cold for traveling to the morgue.

    August 27, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. LK

    Public hanging would be a very good deterent if done soon after the conviction while the crime is still fresh on the locals mind,most wouldbe criminals would likely have witnessed one and would know what would await them.
    The victums greaving familys may even get a laugh.The inmates of lesser crimes could build the gallos and the local lumberyard would make a few bucks adding to the economy.Soda,snack, and even beer stands could be setup also adding to the economy.A Win Win

    August 27, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. literate

    Death is not punishment. Sitting in a small room with Bush and reading the dictionary, on the other hand.....well, you get my point.

    August 27, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Quint

    What if the executed person was wrongfully convicted and evidence of innocence is later found out? You can't appeal when you're dead.

    August 27, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ladrikius

    Guns don't kill people. BULLETS kill people.

    August 27, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
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