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. Mike Cowan

    If one in a thousand is innocent and dies is it still legal for the country to execute that innocent person.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mike

    I am disquisted that no one in this country can sit down and have a decent and productive debate about very serious things. And to everyone talking about the cost of imprisonment, the death penalty is usually appealed for years costing millions of TAX PAYER dollars. I am for the death penalty but it needs to be overhauled.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patinwy

      The whole system, not just justice that needs to be overhauled. Just about everything at government level is almost completely FUBAR.

      September 7, 2010 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. garyrose


    August 27, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Hangem_High

    @Robbie – If they are given the choice of a bungee jump setup – their heads become separated from their bodies.
    That last jolt ain't no chute opening up to save their butts.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Scott Gillis

    With the advancement of science (DNA etc.) and technology, I'm not sure that capital punishment is moral. It seems that a mature society should provide people as much opportunity as possible to prove their innocence. One life ended needlessly is too many.

    Also, police officers are training NOT to use deadly force if suspects are in custody – the threat is neutralized. What is the difference between a suspect and a convicted criminal, if he or she is in custody – the threat is neutralized? Seems pretty hypocritical to me – in essence, we are reinforcing the idea of vigilantism or am I off base?

    August 27, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mike Cowan

    I am so glad I am a Canadian after hearing what you MERKANS THINK

    August 27, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      We're glad you are too.

      August 27, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Liam

    "The chamber showed to the media on Friday showed had no..." Does anyone actually proof read this stuff before it's posted to the entire world?

    August 27, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mark

    I really love how they slaughter those dolphins and whales too. It's important to respect their culture.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Patrick

    I always wondered why they didn't kill people by simply draining the blood from their bodes. You'd black out half way through and not even notice when you stop breathing, etc. Combine that with a generous portion of Morphine and you'd just be shutting off the machine, as it were. That would take away a lot of the "Execution is torture" arguments. Now whether or not the Government should be systematicly killing people is still a question, but at least it's a different question.

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

      Make it so.

      August 27, 2010 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patrick Stewart

      Make it slow?

      August 27, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. same way

    If you kill someone you should be executed the excact same way

    August 27, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. That Guy

    If you had no headline for this article and just the pictures, I would think this was an apartment under construction. Try finding an execution chamber that clean in the states. Funny how certain cultures put time into things other cultures completely ignore.

    August 27, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Death is only the beginning

    I say instead of hanging, or lethal injection, or even a firing squad we should go back to the Gillotine... It's kinda hard to botch a beheading when a 300 lb blade drops 40 feet onto your neck.

    August 27, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DT

    Ive never understood the reverence for life that triumphs over the most cruel and evil crimes available for one to do to another. These arent small crimes we are punishing for. These people have irreparably changed lives for the negative. You are not allowed to commit crimes, and forfeit rights when you do. In this case, they have given up their right to life, because they do not respect other peoples right to life.

    August 27, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Peter

    The chamber rooms are exactly like what we see in Nagisa Oshima's 1968 film "Death by Hanging." A bleak parody of the state's power some might want to think about, too.

    August 27, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Brandon

    Candlejack is gonna need more r

    August 27, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      You know, I've never really understood all this Candlejack cra

      August 27, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
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