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. muflonus

    Chuck Norris was born in a wooden cabin that he built himself.=o)))

    August 28, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. muflonus

    Chuck Norris kick turn is the preferred form of execution in 16 states.

    August 28, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. muflonus

    Chuck Norris would have for their shows and performances deserved at least 3 Oscars, but Chuck pass from hand to hand a blunt metal object is a bit brutal suicide ... But Chuck Norris is no Oscar for her role and never gotten even get. He does not play it.

    August 28, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. idrived

    49 lashes with a wet ramen noodle.

    August 28, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. diana

    do a serious crime and do the time, but i think if it is againts a child well that is that and I also think we need to stop being so wussy about it and why death row we never give anybody to put the needle in the arm. stop the over crowding.

    August 28, 2010 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. wylie

    Let's not forget Death by Woo-Woo...

    August 28, 2010 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. shazam 3

    death penality wont deter the person "dead "set on comitting murder but it might give him/her something to think about> you think?

    August 28, 2010 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Thirst4Knowledge

    An interesting study conducted on psychopathic criminals found that 99% of subjects were neurologically inactive in the frontal lobe area of the brain (the area of the brain which controls emotion). These people were genetically born without a conscience, this combined with a negative upbringing, and these people are like ticking time bombs. There is a huge legal debate over this issue, whether or not a psychopath can be held liable for his crimes if he is neurologically wired to kill. Just something to think about... However i dont believe these people should be shown any mercy, and giving them the death penalty is just that, an escape from their miserable existence.

    August 28, 2010 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Lifeforce

    Thank God for making the simple act of breathing involuntary otherwise all you idiots would die from the stupidity of forgetting to breathe.

    August 28, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • dr André

      Do you mean all people? Are you the only member, then, of some super race?

      August 29, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Julie

    Wow – if the world needs any further evidence of the low quality of American education and intellect – the responses to this article ought to do it.
    How embarrassing!

    August 28, 2010 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bill Mosby

    Inert gas (other than CO2, which the body can sense) is the best way to go. You don't feel a thing, just suddenly go to sleep. I had 2 co-workers who accidentally entered an argon atmosphere and that's the way they described being overcome by it. Another quick-thinking co-worker got them out of the area and they didn't suffer any lasting effects from the experience.

    August 28, 2010 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mmi16

    The country that invented the Kamakazi is concerned about the death penalty?

    August 29, 2010 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
  13. McTumpletons

    I bet they have to fight the rancor when they drop through that trapdoor

    August 29, 2010 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
  14. jesse

    personally, I find a quick shot to the head far more humane than hanging is. Think about it. Your neck may not break and then you have to strangle to death. A headshot is cheaper financially, quicker, and ,as far as I know, painless. I'll take the bullet

    August 29, 2010 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
  15. Read this through and then make your decision

    Ghandi said, "An eye for an eye leaves us all blind."

    If we are to endorse capital punishment within a civilized society, then we must clearly define this concept of certainty so that the least intelligent of us can distinguish between highly probable and absolutely certain.

    Unfortunately, given the fallability of humans, the imperfections of the criminal justice system and probabilities that corrupt people can frame an innocent person, I am not certain that we will ever reach a point of absolute certainties for every case where there is a proponderance of evidence for every case worthy of the death penaly. Make one mistake, one miscalculation, and put an innocent person to death and we become murderers, deserving of the same fate as those we have executed. I for one, would not want to have to be the one pulling the switch given how capable any criminal justice system and the administrators of these systems are.

    Albert Einstein said, "There are two things that are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I am not so certain about the universe." which leads me to the conclusion that capital punishment should be off the table.

    Please don't misunderstand me here, I do not believe in rehabilitation for murderers. Anyone capable of committing murder once is capable of doing it again. I do not buy into the insanity defense because I believe you have to lack empathy to commit murder which makes all murderers insane by my standard. They are dangers to society and deserving of a death behind bars. However, I choose not to be the one to administer it. If they plead for death, leave them a length of rope in the cell and an eye hook on the ceiling so they can do their own dirty work.

    For the record, I am not a liberal and not a conservative. I am an independant and I believe that decisions need to be made based on common sense. Reasoning and common sense tell me that two wrongs don't make a right and common sense tells me that taking a life is wrong. I also believe that vengefullness is not an admirable trait; it just perpetuates cycles of "righteous" hatred leading to a higher body count.

    Finally, regarding the feelings of the friends and loved ones surrounding the victim and the heinousness of the crime, I will tell you that I personally witnessed my friend be beat to death when I was 13 years old. The murderer attempted to capture me and I am certain I would have experienced the same fate but fortunately I was able to escape. The coroners report and the additional witnesses who came upon the scene after my escape confirmed that the murderer smashed my buddies head flat with a rock and then sodomized his corpse.

    I testified in court and based primarily on my testimony, the judge put that murderous SOB behind bars for life without the possibility of parole. Knowing that he will be loved by his fellow murderous inmates for the rest of his days and that he is no longer a threat to society allows me to sleep well, knowing justice has been served as best it can. No matter what, my friend is never coming back ...

    August 29, 2010 at 2:51 am | Report abuse |
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