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. donald lehmkuhl

    your all wrong bahahahaha take em to antartica and make them fends for themselves for a year or twelve and see who comes back to society a changed man

    August 27, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ken

    I really could care less whether execution is humane. Generally by the time the execution rolls around it is pretty well certain that the person is guilty of the crime. If the convict murdered someone, do you think he spent time thinking about a humane or painless way to do it? Ok, so it takes an hour an several drug injections to kill someone, all during which they are in agonizing pain...it give them time to really think about the bad thing they did. If I were in charge, I would probably be more concerned with finding ways to make execution more painful.

    Execution doesn't seem to deter criminals, so maybe if it were a long, drawn out, painful process and future criminals knew it...that might deter one or three.

    August 27, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. HerfDerf

    "I'm against capital punishment, only because it's more expensive than life confinement"

    Not. Even. Close. Please, just shut up unless you know what you are talking about.

    August 27, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. bean373

    How about giving them those 100% tainted Samonella eggs to eat. That would make them suffer tremondously and probably won't kill them. After they get better then give them some more.

    August 27, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Darber42

    Well Skillet92... let me play devil's advocate by seeing that all you Repubs claim to support the right to life until you want to execute someone. Isn't all life sacred?

    August 27, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patinwy

      When a person thinks about it, there is a big difference between the two. The Death Penalty is about removing a threat to innocent people. It could be said that abortion is ending a life that in most situations posed no threat at all to anything.

      September 7, 2010 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Darber42

    Well Skillet92... let me play devil's advocate by saying that all you Repubs claim to support the right to life until you want to execute someone. Isn't all life sacred?

    August 27, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jerry Cox

    How bout just make him listen to one of Obama's
    speeches while he is forced to look at a photo of
    Michelle?

    August 27, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Maximus

    Couple points.
    1) Justice Minister Chiba should include information about the victims of the convicted in order to present the whole story. Only then can one really evaluate a death sentence.
    2) Hanging is certainly more just economically. Especially since a majority of the people that fund capital punishment are innocent of capital crimes.

    August 27, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. abigguy2

    I wonder how many of these anonymous tough guys would be so blood-thirsty if executions were handled like jury duty. You know, the state sends you a letter to notify you that it is your turn to be the executioner. Then you have to report to the prison and kill somebody.
    I know that many of you will say that you would do it, even like doing it. But 95% of those people will be lying and the other 5% have issues that require professional treatment.

    August 27, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patinwy

      In the case of say, a child molester who killed his victim, I would have minimal trouble with it. There are some people who shouldn't be allowed to exist.

      September 7, 2010 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Karl

    I would be a proponent of "painless" execution by sodium pentabarbital as used in assisted suicide if I thought it would lead to more and speedy executions. But it won't. The legal system would remain just as clogged and expensive. It costs millions to execute a single criminal in the USA. The way we do it now is no deterrent anyway, so just forget the death penalty and save our money.

    August 27, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. shannon

    waaa.... everyone is so concerned about being humane to someone sentenced to death, Tht means they deserve to die. they are not good people and do not deserve our concern.

    August 27, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Goodstuff

    Hanging has a notorious failure rate.
    Instead do this:

    Brace the criminal's head in a vice, place a 4" diameter hammer piston against their forehead, trigger the piston. Simple, quick and highly effective.

    August 27, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Nick2

    There is something disgusting about ritualized execution – which is not to say that heinous crimes should go unpunished. I however, would prefer to enable the condemned to voluntarily commit suicide by some far less graphic method, such as a lethal poison.

    August 27, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Wayne

    I suppose these two were executed for spitting on sidewalk – since the article doesn't give any other reason. Way to go, CNN. I suppose you guys would like me to think they are innocent bystanders. Play the game and forget fair and partial reporting. Oh, wait, it WASN'T for spitting on sidewalk after all. It was for the typical gruesome stuff that you would expect. Here are the facts: http://www.southkoreanews.net/story/665671

    August 27, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rooster

    If the guys name was Hung...would they say "Hung was hung"?

    August 27, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
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