Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Urgent move to stop executions in Japan

Amnesty International has issued an urgent appeal to try to stop three men from the gallows in Japan tomorrow.

The organisation believes Takezawa Hifumi (born 1937), Segawa Kouzou (born 1947) and Iwamoto Yoshio (born 1945) may be hanged as soon as 9 August.

They are currently held on death row in Tokyo and Nagoya, convicted of murder between 1990 and 1999.

The appeal says Takezawa Hifumi has been diagnosed as suffering from mental illness.

Deliberate timing
Amnesty International believes the executions may be deliberately timed for the 62nd anniversary of the detonation of an atom bomb over Nagasaki during World War II.

Executions in Japan are often scheduled during parliamentary recesses or on holidays, to avoid public discussion of the death penalty.

Japan resumed executions on 25 December 2006 after a fifteen month break, when incoming Justice Minister Jinen Nagase approved the hanging of four men. Three more were executed on 27 April 2007.

His predecessor, Seiken Sugiura, had refused to sign execution orders during his term in office due to his devout Buddhist beliefs.

Amnesty International said the death penalty in Japan was "arbitrary and cruel".

"There are 107 prisoners facing the death penalty in Japan including a few who have spent over three decades on death row expecting to die at very short notice," it said.

Take action
Amnesty International has requested people send appeal letters to Japanese authorities calling for an immediate moratorium on executions and an end to the secrecy around the country's use of the death penalty.

Please send appeals to:

Prime Minister
ABE Shinzo
Prime Minister’s Office
2-3-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 100-0014, Japan

Fax: +81 3 3581 3883

Related stories:
Japan hangs three 'to keep numbers down' -- 29 April, 2007
Japan: Christmas hangings draw protest -- 03 January, 2007
Executions may resume in Japan -- 21 December, 2006
Long wait, sudden death in Japan -- 28 August, 2006
Japan: Lonely wait for the noose -- 5 April 2006
Japan's death row hell -- 3 March 2006

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