Death by hanging protested in Japanese court

Death by hanging protested in Japanese court
A wooden gavel on a white marble backdrop, Tingey Injury Law Firm via Unsplash, 2020


Aysu Amaha Öztürk

Japan and Human Rights Researcher 

Global Human Rights Defence

On November 29th, three death row inmates sued the Japanese government on the ground that death by hanging is illegal according to international law and the Constitution of Japan. The plaintiffs are demanding a change in the system and around $240,000 from the government due to the suffering they have undergone (“Execution by hanging violates international law”, 2022).

It has been reported that in previous trials, it was claimed that hanging does not inflict any suffering and that death is instant. However, the plaintiffs objected to this and referenced physicians who have claimed the contrary. The lawyer of the plaintiffs, Kyoji Mizutani, stated that the information about executions must be investigated before the abolition of the death penalty can be questioned (“Execution by hanging violates international law”, 2022).

Japan has been called by different organisations to abolish the death penalty (CCPR, 2022; Human Rights Watch, 2022; Amnesty International, 2019). However, the cases opened by inmates in Osaka highlight a different point of the issue, which is the inhuman and cruel character of the death penalty law in Japan. Japan must change its current regime on the death penalty or at least, how it is executed. If its stance resumes as it is, it will keep violating the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which it ratified in 1979. This is especially the case when taking Article 7, which prohibits cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, into account. 

Sources and further reading:

Amnesty International. (2019, 26 December). Japan: Execution a shameful stain on human rights record of Olympic hosts [Press release].

Execution by hanging violates international law. (2022, November 29). Mainichi Shimbun.

Human Rights Bodies. Ratification Status for Japan. United Nations Human Rights Treaty Bodies Database.

Human Rights Watch (2022). World Report 2022: Japan.

UN Human Rights Committee. (2022, November 3). 136th session, Concluding observations on the seventh periodic report of Japan (UN Doc. CCPR/C/JPN/CO/7). United Nations Human Rights Treaty Bodies Database.