Japanese death row inmates are not told their date of execution. They wake each day wondering if today may be their last.
This practice is known as “hoken shitsukei” or “execution secrecy” and is intended to prevent the inmate from escaping or committing suicide.
The Japanese government argues that execution secrecy is necessary to maintain public order and to ensure that the death penalty is carried out fairly and efficiently. However, human rights groups have criticized the practice as cruel and unusual punishment. They argue that it causes unnecessary psychological distress to the inmate and their family. Japanese Death Row
In 2018, the United Nations Human Rights Committee called on Japan to abolish execution secrecy. The committee stated that the practice is “inhumane and degrading” and that it violates the inmate’s right to life.
The Japanese government has refused to abolish execution secrecy. However, in recent years, there has been some debate about whether or not to inform inmates of their execution date a few days in advance. This would give the inmate time to say goodbye to their loved ones and to make any religious or spiritual preparations they need. Japanese Death Row
In Japan, until the 1970s, the date of execution was announced to the condemned prisoner before the execution. However, because there were cases of death row inmates committing suicide before the execution, the method was changed to one or two hours before the execution to ensure the emotional stability of the inmate.
In a 2009 report, Amnesty International accused Japan of subjecting death row inmates to “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment, including the short time prisoners are given to prepare themselves for their execution and the many years they spend in solitary confinement. Japanese Death Row
It has also criticised Japan for executing or placing mentally ill and intellectually challenged prisoners in solitary confinement.
Ueda said there was no legal requirement for inmates to be informed so close to their execution, adding that the practice was a violation of the country’s criminal code.
“The central government has said this is meant to keep prisoners from suffering before their execution, but that’s no explanation and a big problem, and we really need to see how they respond to the suit,” he said.
“Overseas, prisoners are given time to contemplate the end of their lives and mentally prepare. It’s as if Japan is trying as hard as possible not to let anybody know.” Japanese Death Row