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. Nick O Laas

    Must say, these comments are effin amusing.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. PJ

    I thought the US was the only first world country with the death penality. The Conservatives will be disappointed to have to share this honor.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Nick O Laas

    And lets be honest, some people just plain deserve the death penalty. So in essence, there will or should never be a one-sided decision for or against the death penalty. I'm sure thats likely how it will remain.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mike

    the guillotine should be reinstated back into America. quick painless and we'd feel a good sense of revenge.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Texas Pete

      Yeah, right. French methods? Forget it.

      August 27, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • I'm with cowboy Pete

      don't follow the french, history says bad move

      August 27, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hangem_High

      Is that with or without the cheering crowds where children are admitted for free.

      August 27, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      The guillotine was normally anything but quick and painless. Often it took many drops of the blade to decapitate the victim. The blades weren't always very sharp, and the victim would occasionally live in agony for the first few drops.

      That said, I'm all in favor of bringing back the guillotine.

      August 27, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Emerson

    What's wrong with sea-foam green?

    Anyway, the real issue here is prisoner's rights... of which they have, many and, really, shouldn't. The only rights they should have are: enough food and water so they don't die, a roof over their heads, and the right to not be abused by their jailers. That's IT. No more cable TV, no more free education, health care, no more fancy meals, smokes, gyms, etc. The only outdoor time they should get is hard labor. And they should pay for their incarceration, if at all possible, even if the state has to sell off their assets to do it.

    Unemployed people have fewer benefits than prisoners. What's up with that?

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

      I agree with you completely. Prisons offer too much for the prisoners. If a kid is punished, he's sent to his room with no TV. If an adult is punished he's sent to a prison with cable TV. First, get rid of all entertainment and luxuries. No cigarettes, no TV, no visitation, nothing. No books, no newspapers, no music, no personal items, absolutely nothing. Make the cells just large enough for bunk beds and a toilet and sink. Frequent random cell checks and body searches to reduce the chances of people having contraband. Better yet, don't let them have clothes. Can't hide anything (easily) without clothes.

      August 27, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Marcus W.

    They should just do what we do. Break the communities by underfunding police, schools and jobs and then they simply kill each other. Or if it's death that one wants, again just do what we do and fabricate reasons to start random wars all over the world. We kill millions in this way.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. MichaelChatt

    lol someone got their motives broken by feeling like they are called a libtard. Personally I love the term. I'm more a Libertarian myself. I think you should be able to do just about anything you want to do, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else and you pay for it yourself. The far left is so driven by agendas that anything is ok and evil is only the things that stop them. Victory at any cost. The Far Right are no better but they are a bit more bound by a code of ethics, usually. Abortion Bombers and so forth are a different animal, not unlike treehuggers who burn buildings ect in order to save a snail.

    Some people deserve to die. Some people should die. The fact that some countries don't publicly do it doesn't mean they don't do it. It is also a reality that many of these countries that don't have the death penalty are so small they couldn't repopulate California, or even New Jersey. They have less crime and less diversity. Their situations are very different.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. eeds

    Thou Shalt not Kill

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

      That only applies to god fearing folks – killers don't give a squat about the ten commndments.

      August 27, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Keith Long

    Those of you who say the death penalty is not a deterrent: it certainly deters that particular killer from ever killing anyone else.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      If the pay-per-view ratings get good enough I'm sure they'd expand the Death Penalty to include Jay-Walking. 🙂

      August 27, 2010 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • dgatwood

      So does locking the person up forever. And in many cases, even that isn't necessary. There are basically three categories of people in jail for murders and other serious crime.

      1. The true sociopaths (typically serial killers, rapists, etc. fall into this group) experience no true remorse, though they may be good at faking it. They are incapable of returning to civilized society, but they are clearly not sane, and thus do not really meet the criteria required to stand trial (though many are incorrectly judged to be sane).

      2. People who committed crimes of passion are unlikely to ever commit that crime again, and at most, need appropriate therapy and probably medication to ensure this (e.g. the battered wife who finally snaps, the suicidally depressed woman who kills her kids and tries to kill herself, etc.). Under proper court/medical supervision, future crimes by that person could generally be prevented without capital punishment.

      3. The third group consists of people who did not actually commit the crime.

      How, then, can there possibly be any people who could reasonably be deterred by the threat of death? At best, the second group could be scared enough to stay under medical care, but the threat of incarceration should have the same effect. It still does nothing to deter a second murder if the person gets off his/her meds.

      August 30, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dan

    It is, of course, uncivilized people who murder, but a civilized SOCIETY should not make killing a matter of national policy. No one has the right to kill, and the fact that someone does kill does not automatically give someone else, either individual or government, the right to kill. A death penalty is a gross oversimplification and an absurdly incorrect response to such crimes. Come on, folks, we're an intellegent society. Surely we can think of a better way of dealing with this besides just killing more people.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      But – but Killing is our #1 National Policy, why we kill Hundreds of Afgan and Iraqis a day. Soon we'll be bombing Iran. We AMERICANS love death. as long as it's brown people! We spend a Trillion Dollars a Year just on Killing!

      Don't try to convince Americans killing is wrong, You might just get shot 🙂

      August 27, 2010 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. enlighted sould

    This is what Maydoff and of the CEOs responsible for the colapse of our economy deserve. Than hopefully they will learn NOT TO STEAL money from the taxpayers.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Brad

    Just a note for the people talking about following the ten commandments as law and about the commandment stating thou shall not kill. If you look that commandment up in the old greek I believe you will find it says thou shall not murder.
    There is a big difference between murdering or killing someone. If you take someones life while defending your own or you just got out and kill someone while robbing them, which one is murder and which one is killing.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kim

    I think the death penalty should only be used in extreme cases with overwhelming evidence. I think prisoners should then be dropped out of airplanes, fed to wild animals or beaten to death by gangs of naked teenage girls. All executions should be televised.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      Kwel! then we can start with Greenspan, GW, the Board of Goldman-Sachs,, and work on down, till we get all the banksters who F'D up the worlds economy.

      For their next bonous Designer Rope. 🙂

      August 27, 2010 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • dgatwood

      Careful. The prisoners might enjoy that last one.

      August 30, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ben

    How about we let them live but force them to read posts to the CNN Forums all day everyday...or is that cruel and unusual?

    August 27, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Marcosis

    As a second option they bring in the Grudge.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
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