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. Neal

    Killing another person can never be justified. Kill the crime not the criminal.

    August 27, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Papa Mike

      Neal I beg to differ. When you see your buddies gunned down trying to rescue kids from a burning school, that just had incendiary grenades thrown into it while the kids were all eating their lunch together, and we were able to eliminate the threat, I'd say that's pretty justifiable.

      August 27, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Justiceman

    I wish we had more happen here in the states. Everyone should be given 3 months to appeal and if it ain't successful then 1 week later you're done in the same way you did it to the other person. Unless you didn't kill anyone and it was a crime agganist a child then you should still be killed but by a machine that has spikes and sharp objects and does to you what you did to the child!!!!

    August 27, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. john

    our country need a more efficient and nationwide capital punishment to get rid of people we do not need in this world.

    August 27, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. dr. Doolittle

    send them on a hunting trip with Dick Cheney!

    August 27, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. dike

    Life in prison, sleep on the floor, three meals of boiled buffalo meat with garlic, 6ft X 4ft prison. Way more humane than killing these people. Will let the future candidates think twice.

    August 27, 2010 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Alex

    According to Futurama death by snu-snu is a pretty good way to execute somebody.

    August 27, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Kent

    Bolt gun to the head. Works on cattle. Works on inmates. Very simple. Very easy.

    August 27, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. db

    Actually as morbid as executions around the world are and the types of ways that man has come up with to kill each other, the most humane is actually electrocution. If done right, the brain is toast before the pain hits it. The electrical flow is at the speed of light. Once the brain is dead what ever the body does is purely involitary reaction of muscle activiity. Hanging, decapitation, drawn and quartered, squashed, lethal injection, even being shot in the head, as long as the mind has oxygen it is working and your are not dead and you are still thinking, feeling, and reacting. Louis XVI was decapitated and reacted to his name by opening his eyes up to 2 minutes after his had came off the body! No one has reacted after the power was shut off after an electrocution.

    August 27, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tsshhh

    Bury them alive, they'll die. No mess.

    August 27, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Susan T

    That is a nice chamber! I was expecting a dirty run down place.

    August 27, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Gerry

    I am against the death penalty. I hope anyone who is involved in bringing about the death of another spends eternity in hell. I'm looking at you, judge.

    August 27, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Frugalmind

    Hold on everybody; Houston we have a prblem. Both Democrats and Republicans can agree on this; I suggest we cook and eat them, by that we provide great nutrition for everybody. Its cheap and not messy. You fools!!!!!

    August 27, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. CSnord

    I don't have a problem with State-sanctioned execution as a form of punishment or, if you will, taking out the garbage, per se, but I now oppose capital punishment in the US because our system is broken. Most opponents argue that incarceration is cheaper and that it is not a deterrent. That may be true, but studies indicate that it is highly effective at eliminating recidivism.

    The problem I have is that our justice system is largely unconcerned about factual guilt or innocence. A typical trial pits one attorney against the other and whoever puts on the best show wins. Also, if a defendant can throw enough money at his defense, he can get off virtually every time. Conversely, a lack of money increases the likelihood of conviction regardless of the facts. If the system were to be changed to focus on finding and prosecuting the actual perpetrators of the crime, then I might be more inclined to support the death penalty. As it is, it is far too likely under our system for innocent people to be convicted and executed, and the prospect of the State executing factually innocent people is too high a cost.

    August 27, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Erin T

    The loopholes have become obscene! What it comes down to is the prisoners have more rights and advocates than the victims… when are we as a society going to accept responsibility for our own actions (or teach our kids responsibility for that matter) . If you do a crime, the punishment should be the same no matter your socio-economic status or if you are black, white or purple. The lawyers and politicians have managed to corrupt the system to their advantage rather than the true justice for the general population. Everyone had a different idea of what “cruel and undusual” punishment… and I’m sorry, having a subscription to Playboy and cable TV because your “rights” were violated is NOT punishment in my book. Lets go back to the old standard that you pay your own way… it is not owed to you… prisoners should work for their room and board (rocks and license plates anyone??)

    August 27, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ron

    You guys keep talking about the old Babylonian Law – Eye for an Eye (which I agree with)... however you guys do know that Hamurrabi also had a law that basically said that if you falsely accuse someone and you were wrong you'd get the same punishment... Now in today's time I believe if the police or DA puts an innocent man to death or in jail... they should get the same punishment. If we did that... I'm going to bet police do a better job in terms of due dilligence.

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