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. deuce

    you know, I somehow thought they'd have a cooler execution method than that. Something like being instantly vaporized by a giant mech, or being shot in the head by a delicious loli....

    August 27, 2010 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      I thought they just tied them to a stake outside for Godzilla noms 🙂

      Isn't that why Tokyo has been safe so long??

      August 27, 2010 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • joeNYC

      Maybe let Mothra lay an egg inside the convict....

      August 31, 2010 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Douglas

    Cameron Todd Willingham. Stop the madness. Eyewitnesses and expert testimony have been proven unreliable time and time again. End the death penalty now.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Hangem_High

      NO – NO – NO. IF caught "red handed" – shootem on the spot – only costs approximately $1.00 per round. Cheapest way and they get their right to immediate justice.

      August 27, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      How about no? Make the death penalty even more brutal... So what if it is revenge killing. Try being the victim and walk in their shoes before you cry for the killer. This is the one thing I can agree with conservatives on. Bring back the barbarism, humanity has gotten to weak.

      August 27, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Curious question

      SO what if we have DNA evidence that says, "This person did unspeakable acts to your daughter and then killed her". What if the proof is positive? Is it OK to use the death Penalty then? I mean...people keep saying that some people get killed with the death penalty that are innocent. I am pretty certain that EVERYONE gets killed by the perpetrator and the majority of them were innocent.

      There is no perfect system. Death Penalty opponents say it is barbaric to kill them and makes us no better. Let them stay in prison for life. My question is...are you saying it is OK to torture this person for life (because if you ask any prisoner on death row, I bet they would rather be free), but not OK to kill them? You are a sick bunch of freaks.

      August 27, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Aaron

    I love it when people quote a single Bible verse to prove a point! Shows their broad range of knowledge of the subject, don't you think?

    August 27, 2010 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Hangem_High

      Kinda narrow minded if only one quote is used.

      August 27, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • yennick

      I agree 100% there is nothing biblical about the murders that were committed, lets leave the bible quotes out of this discussion and give them what they deserve. It does'nt matter what method they use bottom line they have to pay for the life they took by taking theirs.

      August 27, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Michael

    Considering execution as a punishment can only happen in a justice system where there is no chance of putting the innocent to death at the hands of the State. A single innocent life taken as a result of death penaly "collateral damage" (as Timothy McVeigh cynically described the deaths of children in OK City) is not acceptable to any civilized society.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • xeroxparc

      The truth.

      August 27, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rick

    You pro-death people are pathetic. I bet you all go to church and say you follow the 10 commandments too huh? Hypocrites. Do you folks have any idea how many innocent people are released after many many years in jail each year? So how many innocent people do you think have been executed in the past? No wonder Americans are seen as the hill billys of the western world. Thanks goodness your day in the sun is coming to an end.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Texas Pete

      We shall see come November. Your Democrap can go cry to their mommies when the votes are counted, unless you get Acron to stuff your ballot boxes again.

      August 27, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • cry to their mommies

      I do not think the dems will loose

      no one has that short a memory

      August 27, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |

      Hey BIGOT BOY!
      I do go to Church every Sunday. Guess what I am anti-capital punishment. Also guess what? A lot of people that never go to Church are for it.
      So you sire can take a flying leap at a rolling doughnut.
      And for the record if you bother to do the math. Governments with official polices of atheism have killed more people than those that have not!
      Count up the deaths under Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim Il-Sung and continuing his with his son beat even Adolf for shear numbers.
      And trust me the Crusades and Inquisition can not hold a candle to modern numbers of deaths.
      Frankly Atheists that seem to ignore the grief that man without God has done on this Earth scare me. The human race has too much power to function with only our selves to answer too.

      August 27, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      OK Rick, How many people are released after many many years in prison. Give me a number and a source for your number. And make sure that number includes only those who are exonerated due to absolute proof that they were not involved. Do the same for those who are executed and then found to be innocent due to absolute proof that they were not involved. Now express those as a percentage of the people who are in prison, or have been executed, respectively.

      If your answer even comes near 1/10 of a percent then you're obviously making up some data.

      Our justice system allows every person to be tried by a jury of their peers. If a reasonable group of people agree that a person is guilty of a crime and deserves to die for the severity of his crimes, then either the person's lawyer decided not to present any evidence of the person's innocence or the person is guilty. Plus, as others have said, there are appeals, so multiple groups of people must independently decide that a person is guilty of the crime and deserves to die.

      August 27, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • shelleyinmtl

      well, finally a sane american . after reading some of these posts i was starting to wonder if the majority of americans still think they are living in the wild wild west.(oops i forgot about texas where i believe you can still walk around with guns in your cars,pockets,holsters? i'm not quite sure. capital punishment was abolished in canada in 1976 due to fears of wrongful convictions,concern about the state taking the lives of individuals and the now proven fact that the death penalty is not a deterrent for crime. since abolition at least 6 canadians if not more who were convicted of 1st degree murder have been released on grounds of innocence after wrongful conviction from crimes thatwould likely have resulted in their executions. how many wrongfully convicted black men do you think sit in your prisons right now ?

      August 27, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bunky

      I agree..

      August 27, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • tigerchuong

      Rick, go to church an pray all you want. Death penalty has nothing to do with your believe. It's justice. Simple is that. Murderers should pay for their crimes. You want a shirt, then you should pay to get that shirt. Same thing with death penalty, one wants a high life, money, by taking from other or kill other, should pay for their choice. You wants to rob and kill then you will be rob of your freedom and kill(your life) when got caught. Simple.

      August 28, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim Liao

      I will elaborate on what the last guy said. Stop making this an issue about your own morality. The death penalty is about society's responsibility to try to seek justice for the victims of murder and their families that have to live without them anymore. If a victim chooses to go in front of judge at the time of sentencing and ask for a non-capital punishment to be handed to down to the criminal then that victims wishes should be heavily taken into consideration by the judge but anybody not involved and just wants to be anti-death penalty because they want to feel good about themselves needs to shut up because you are not the victim and therefore it is selfish to think you have a say in the final results.

      September 1, 2010 at 2:36 am | Report abuse |
  6. MomofArn

    I like that they don't tell them they're gonna be executed until they are in the room. Saves all the money for appeals and ridiculously large last meals. You got the death penalty and we really mean it!

    August 27, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  7. Alex

    No government has any place meting out death to its citizens. If even one innocent man is executed, it has corrupted justice far more than if a guilty man walked. The best way to prevent this is life imprisonment w/o parole.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Texas Pete

      If it helps, the government could revoke their citizenship shortly before they push the button...

      August 27, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Texas Pete

      If it helps, the government could revoke their citizenship shortly before they push the button.

      August 27, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • it helps

      or kill them immediately after the verdict is read... save a lot of money and immediately into creamation

      efficiency from the Nazis... but the criminals have earned it

      August 27, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jimbo

      Really Alex? "If even one innocent man is executed, it has corrupted justice far more than if a guilty man walked." Try telling that to the family of the people murdered by that guilty man that got to walk. I bet very good money that they would argue that statement. I also bet if it was the killer of your family that walked because of some technicality you wouldn't be like "that's ok, at least it insures that no innocent people got put to death"

      August 27, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • tko

      "Forgive them Father for they know not what they do." Ironic – the savior for a lot of these people who are for capital punishment was killed (wrongfully?) by capital punishment. And He forgave them. If you're a Christian and for capital punishment . . . I think you need some remedial education.

      August 27, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob C.

      Jumbo: "Try telling that to the family of the people murdered by that guilty man that got to walk"

      If he's off on a technicality, he walks whether there is capital punishment or not. I understand what you're trying to say, but it's irrelevant to this "debate". Your biggest beef is how the justice system is letting people off; the result of the judgment is irrelevant.

      Although I'm not a fan of the death penalty, I agree with you the system is not perfect and could be improved. But having the death penalty or not, right now people still walk when they should not, and unfortunately there are still some that have "burned" that were innocent.

      to all: Victims family may indeed feel better when they get some sense of revenge, but I wonder how they feel when they find out the guy they thought was the murderer was actually innocent, discovered after the fact?

      I just don't think our justice system is mature enough to support the death penalty. There have been too many cases overturned due to the use of DNA that 20 years ago would have meant they would have been put to death. Have all of you ever thought about how many people have been put to death in the past 100 years, taking a moment to ponder if DNA technology had been available, that perhaps would have been freed? Many also like to say "think of the victim's family". That's true, but is that more important than thinking of the wrongly accused families, who lost a family member? I don't think one is more important than the other.

      August 27, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jondoe888

    That does sound better than the drugs we use here. And I'd feel better about the death sentence if our numbers were a LOT lower. (or if they were backed up with the lives of judges and prosecutors – just in case there was a mistake – meaning someone was happier with a conviction over the truth.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  9. Matt

    Say what you will about the death penalty, at least the facilities there are slightly nicer looking. Its bad enough being executed, especially in the US where one is executed like a dog. Its even worse to meet your demise in a room of nothing but cinder blocks and sea foam green ornamentation. If I coordinated the process, I'd march the condemned out to a nice natural place, maybe let them see one last sunset while smoking a cigarette, and then shoot them. I think this method offers just enough dignity and just enough violence in dispatching the condemned such that its neither cruel, unusual, or creepy.

    Apparently the East Germans would tell the condemned they were about to be executed and before the condemned could react, they'd be dead by gunshot.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Hangem_High

      Would you prefer execution by 3D Video – your last vision is of two long icepicks headed straight for your eyes – only it's for real.

      August 27, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      If their just put tp sleep I wouldn't waste my time. But if were creative, I'd go pay-per-view. Maybe a combination of the movie "runing man" and the Smoking Gun tv show. Yes I'd pay for that.

      August 27, 2010 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Pierrepoint

    You're welcome, untermensch.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  11. MichaelChatt

    It's funny, the people so against the Death Penalty would march in the streets to keep someone from being put to death, then again to keep them from living in their neighborhood. What is the point of keeping someone in jail for the remainder of their lives? They serve no purpose. We spend billions caring for horrible people no one wants to ever see again and allow good people, people with hope for a good future to become homeless and or children to be hungry, just so we can feel good. How can you feel good when you protect a murdering pedi.. and not the children they prey on. There are always 2 sides to every decision and doing what feels right and feels good isn't always the same.

    How many short term inmates become serious, dangerous, hardened criminals because of the lifers they encounter. If they have no hope to ever be free what purpose does their life serve other that draining our enconomy? Hardenening your criminals who might have hope of a productive life and endangering justice professionals? Oh yeh, and making some people feel good about protecting them, like a tree. OK OK I admit it's possible the tree could be a criminal to. Maybe someone was hung from it and that is the same thing as a murderer or a Pedi because obviously their actions are not really their fault either.

    shame on you.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Gail

    Could be worse, they could force the condemmed to listen to Tila Tequila singing until they couldn't take it anymore.... but that's probably considered to be inhumane.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jimini Cricket

    If killing people is wrong it is wrong for the state to do it also. The idea is that life is sacred or precious. If it is then it is.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Texas Pete

      It's wrong for me to demand money from someone just for working, but the government does this and it is called taxes. Just because individuals shouldn't do something doesn't mean it is also bad for the government.

      August 27, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Texas

      you're so darned smart

      August 27, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mike

    It is ironic that most people who support the death penalty would spend their last dime to save the lives of their loved ones convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Go figure. I am yet to find a parent of a person sentenced to death advocating for the death penalty. That's the world we live in.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      No I wouldn't...if they did something that bad then that is what they deserve.

      August 27, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. blahh

    lethal injection please. quiet and painless. plus, it costs taxpayers the most. haha

    August 27, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hangem_High

      The cost is cheap compared to the price the guilty pay.

      August 27, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      So is being cycled thru a carcrusher. Maybe be forced to wear demeaning costumes 🙂

      August 27, 2010 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
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