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. expat5

    I'm for a limited use of the death penalty, but completely opposed to doing it in a way that insulates society as a whole from it. It's especially egregious that in America it's become virtually a medical procedure. Serving as an executioner (to push the button or pull the trigger or throw the switch or whatever) should be like jury duty. Anybody could get called.

    August 27, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. kittybling

    It's what i expected..nothing elaborate here.. this procedure is to the point and what should be done. Murdererer and psychos are being re-released back to society or "being treated" and then re-released, jailhouses are overloaded and then to be re-released? It doesn't make sense for any of these nutcases to even be out there. Jailhouses are overloaded, etc... Not worth it!

    August 27, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. dan

    show the SECRET death chamber to the media....huh

    August 27, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Flex

    The republican "hounds from hell" are releasing their toxic dump into this forum. Rather than discussing this execution chamber for what it is, their middle-age/middle east, cave man mentality gets more crazy. Grow up republicans.

    August 27, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Niclas

      Flex – were you born ignorant and biased or it it a recent phenomenon?

      August 28, 2010 at 3:34 am | Report abuse |
  5. Daydreamer

    Why can't we ( the USA) buy a deserted island in the Pacific and collect all the prisoners and drop them off on the island.
    The could fend for themselves. For those that say " man, that's just cruel." We could do a drop off of supplies.. say .. once a month. The strongest survive. We could have a PT boats patrol the island to be sure no one tries to escape. I know this may sound radical... but , least we know where they all are. Then the empty, prisons we could make into homeless shelters... or have them available for housing when a disaster strikes. I say it would save money all the way around. or maybe I'm just nutz....

    August 27, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • it works

      The English did that, it is called Australia. When the colony took off they had to find another island, and called that Tasmania. Unfortunately the prisoners did not just die out as more kept on coming... and coming...

      August 28, 2010 at 3:18 am | Report abuse |
  6. Pete

    I am for the death penalty – just not in the way it's used in the US. Here you only get the death penalty after they decide you are guilty. Its not really related to how sure people are that you did it – so innocent get killed. What we should do is ONLY use the death penalty if a higher standard of guiltt is found. Instead of beyond all reasonable doubt – beyond any doubt or something like that.

    Basically right now you get the death penalty if you have a crappy lawyer – instead of if you are a convicted serial killer and that's stupid.

    August 27, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Nathan

    TX13, you would be against capital punishment, until someone you loved was murdered. Then see how you feel about the humanity of it all when your accuser smiles and goes on vacation, gets and education and 3 meals a day.

    August 27, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. TheLastWord

    Do you really think justice can ever be done for some of these creeps? How can one death equal the thousands of innocent killed by Hitler. How can anyone really pay for their misdeeds? No, after death there will be an equalizing punishment for ones misdeeds. God will have the last word and punishment. Your only hope to escape is through faith in Jesus the Christ revealed in the Bible.

    August 27, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. pokemon

    I think they should have the prisoners all dress up as pokemon and have a great big battle to the end.

    August 27, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. queeney

    How about killing them the same way they killed the victim? That is Karmic justice in my book.

    August 27, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. camperman45

    Hey, I have an idea. Let's just do away with all laws and punishement for those that do evil. Because we are all the time deciding and changing what was considered by the majority of people to be the right thing to do. The right thing to do is simple just ask any felon and or person with no moral values. Oh! heck that's what we are doing now!!

    August 27, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Liam

    Morally and philosophically speaking a 'sentence', whatever it is, is supposed to serve as a psychological deterent to even comitting the crime in question to begin with. Am I right? Yes, I am. It obviousley doesn't work that well it seems. When people are planning or in the process of a crime does anyone really really think that the perpetrators are saying to each other, "Ya know... if we get caught we're gonna be executed. Let's just go home and forget the whole thing". Um....NO! They don't! Capital punishment is retribution and vengance. It's legally sanctioned 'pay-back'. If you really want to be as cold as possible and vindictive then put someone in prison (solitary) until they drop dead and leave nothing but a stain on the cement floor. Say a brief prayer and hose whats left down the drain. Amazing!!!! As modern cultures we've decided that there is OK killing and bad killing. What is the difference between, "I was following orders" and "I wanted the money and needed to get out of there" WOW! The great thing about people is their ability to magainalize many many of our actions and think of them more as 'bloopers' than descisions when it's convenient.

    August 27, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. CMoney

    hahaha these comments are f***ing hilarious

    August 27, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. camperman45

    Why don't you just forget about these moron's and think about the people they harmed. People have way to much time on their hands. If you are not employed get up off your butt and start using your mind for something constructive, like what can I do to help and serve good people. Yeah, I know. It would mean you would have to go to WORK!! You might even sweat a little. God forbide!

    August 27, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      Many of these bad-azz gangsta types like tatoos. How we put one on their forehead, that gives the person bringing in that head a million dollars. and just put them back on the street,

      August 27, 2010 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. TonyInNYC

    I'm assuming the inmates know they are about to be executed before stepping into that "room where inmates are told they are about to be executed."

    Also, do the witnesses wait and watch in that lower room below the execution chamber? That would certainly be something to witness: All of a sudden the ceiling opens up and an inmate drops down at breakneck speed.

    August 27, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
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