Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Japan's justice minister comments on the death penalty

Justice Minister hopes for greater transparency on death penalty
From The Mainichi Daily News
30 September 2009

Following her appointment as Justice Minister, Keiko Chiba has faced major issues such as the legislation of police investigation videotaping and how to address Japan's death penalty. In an interview with the Mainichi the minister provides her thoughts on these topics.

Mainichi: How will you proceed with legislation of video and sound recordings of all stages of the investigation process, as the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) proposed in its election manifesto?

Chiba: We want to stay committed to realizing this steadily. We have put together the framework within the party, and we want to hold open debate on how we will carry the measures out, receiving opinions from many people. On bills presented by lawmakers, we want to narrow down how much we will include, whether it be everything from the outset, or whether we take things one step at a time.

Mainichi: You are a member of the league of Diet members promoting abolition of the death penalty. Do you plan to sign any execution orders as Justice Minister?

Chiba: I am aware that there are regulations and the Justice Minister is entrusted with duties. Now that I have become a member of the government, I will place myself at a certain distance from the league and step down as a member. However, there are various debates about the issue, and in the end, it's a penalty that takes people's lives away from them, so I want to handle the issue cautiously. The citizen judge system has started, and it is possible for the public to select the death penalty. Considering that, I hope that people will focus on the issue and think about it, and that we can create some kind of forum for debate. I hope we can open things up little by little in some form or other, including by making information public and bringing execution venues into public view. I am aware that it is hard for debate to proceed without the public knowing any of the reality.

Mainichi: Diet members have proposed legislation to revise the Civil Code with the introduction of a system of optional separate family names for husbands and wives. How will the DPJ compile opinions on this as the ruling party?

Chiba: It's a fact that there are varying opinions within the party, but up until now the DPJ has been involved in such policymaking, so we will proceed on that footing. I feel it a little strange that the Justice Ministry Legislative Council gave a response (in favor of a legal revision in 1996) but nothing has materialized over this period. We want to quickly settle on a definite plan, and look toward making a proposal at a regular Diet session next year.

(Mainichi Japan) September 30, 2009

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