Education | Jan 24

University Professors Sue for Disclosure of Capital Punishment Documents

OSAKA, Jan 24 (News On Japan) - Two individuals, including Ritsumeikan University Law School Professor Koichi Oda, who was the defense attorney for one of the executed death row inmates, have filed a lawsuit against the government at the Osaka District Court seeking disclosure of documents related to the execution of six former death row inmates.

The plaintiffs argue that the failure to disclose most of the requested documents prevents verification of whether the executions were carried out properly. According to the lawsuit, the government used to publish the number of executions in statistical data annually, but since November 1998, it has been announcing the number on the day of execution. Since October 2007, it has been disclosing the names, birthdates, and criminal facts of the executed inmates.

Last year, Professor Oda and another individual requested the disclosure of documents concerning the execution of six individuals, including Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, the former leader of the Aum Shinrikyo cult. The request was largely denied on the grounds that "public disclosure of information related to executions could hinder the administration of punishment and public safety and order."

The plaintiffs argue that without the disclosure of information, it is impossible to verify whether the executions, carried out by hanging as prescribed by the Penal Code, are properly conducted, and they claim that the government's refusal to disclose the documents is illegal. On January 23rd, they filed a lawsuit seeking the disclosure of these documents at the Osaka District Court.

Professor Oda stated, "Hanging is a cruel punishment that violates Article 36 of the Constitution, which prohibits cruel punishments. It is necessary to disclose specific information about the death penalty, which takes human lives, and to have a discussion about it." On the other hand, the Ministry of Justice has stated, "We cannot comment as we have not received the complaint."

Source: NHK


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