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. dr André

    I notice some uninformed commenters think that some civilized countries does not have the death penalty. But they all do: Even without trial, thousands of people get to be executed by my colleague doctors for the crime of "attempted birth". Then the doctors get paid for this.

    And law abiding citizens are condemned to death because murder in "civilized countries" is only rewarded by life long accommodation and food at the taxpayer's expense.

    August 28, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. hjs3

    The old noose seems a little archaic to me with other more technically
    advanced methods avail...but I'm sure there is a reason for the hangman.
    TERROR! Oh and the aggrieved party secretly feels a little better knowing the execution wasn't painless....

    The advancement of modern day society is really something to marvel.

    August 28, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. WCF

    All things considered, I'd rather be in Philadelphia.

    August 28, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ningjua

    Is this working?

    August 28, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mr. Miyagi


    August 28, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Smog

    My wife now wants me to remove the wood paneling in the basement.

    August 28, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. vampyre647

    Actually, a hanging, if properly carried out, is painless. The noose is fashioned in such a way that the weight of the condemned pulls the rope tight and the knot slams into the back of the head with such force as to break the neck and, therefore, instant death. However, the chance of surviving the inital shock exists so I am sure, on occasion, that there are people that do suffocate. All the same, it is faster than spending 3 hours looking for a suitable vein to euthanize the condemned. I say bring back old sparky, let the victims' families flip the switch and put it on a dimmer. Make them suffer. Nobody ever considers that those sentenced to die have probably tortured his or her victims. Why, if he or she wasn't kind, should the system be kind in return? Oh, you brutally killed 13 people and violated their final dignity by abusing their corpse, take this and go to sleep forever. That is unfair to the memory of the victims.

    August 28, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill Mosby

      I wonder why they don't use inert gas, such as argon or nitrogen. It works quickly and undetectably, as I have written below.

      August 28, 2010 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. John Doe

    If I were given the choice between having my head chopped off or burning at the stake, I would pick burning at the stake, because a hot steak is better than a cold chop !! lol

    August 28, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jerry

    A bullet between the eyes for me please!

    August 28, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. EM

    Amnesty International apparantly feels sorry for these guys: "...knowing they could be executed at any time..."
    Yeah, how horrible, that at any given moment during their stay in the prison, they could be put to death -
    - just like their victims.

    August 28, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. FredG

    princewill SAID: what is below the trap door? August 28, 2010 at 6:59 am RESPONSE: Used toilet paper and sticky stuff.

    August 28, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. FredG

    I would prefer to make my own death noose. It would be made of soft cotton thread and a series of slip knots.

    August 28, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. simon stamberg from austria

    Die Todesstrafe ist richtig! Schade, das diese in Europa nicht vollzogen wird, würde auch hier viele Verbrechen verhindern, da diese Strafe abschreckend ist! Amerika bleibe dabei, jedoch nur bei 100 Prozent nacherwiesener Schuld! with best regards Simon from Austria

    August 28, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. simon stamberg from austria

    yeah! thats right

    August 28, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  15. muflonus

    Chuck Norris never die, even with a bullet or a rope =o)

    August 28, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
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