The “Inhumane” Treatment of Japanese Death Row Inmates

The “Inhumane” Treatment of Japanese Death Row Inmates
Photo: An execution room at the Tokyo detention house in Tokyo, Getty Images, NYPost 

Naomi Loond 

Asia and Human Rights Researcher, 

Global Human Rights Defence.

On November 5th in Japan, two inmates on death row sued the government over the “inhumane” treatment they received. The basis for the legal action is a consequence of a policy for death row prisoners in which they find out about their execution on the same day that it happens. 

Due to this policy, prisoners on death row are forced to live in fear of not knowing if today will be their last day to live. These two prisoners filed the lawsuit in a district court in Osaka for the reason that the same day execution policy does not give them time to file an objection. 

In Japan, the capital punishment is hanging. Majority of people in Japan - as seen on public polling - agree with the capital punishment for murder and drug offences. However, this doesn’t include if people agree with the treatment of the inmates. Currently, there are 112 people on death row living in constant fear. Their families are also frightened, and in some cases they are not notified until after the execution has occurred. 

These two inmates have asked the court for monetary compensation, and change of this specific policy. Amnesty International - a human rights organization - has also called them out for their treatment of prisoners and demand change from the government.  

Sources and Further Reading: 

Hodge, M. (2018). Japan’s death row executes inmates without any warning. Retrieved 8 November 2021, from 

Lies, E. (2021). Japan death row inmates sue over 'inhumane' same-day notification. Retrieved 8 November 2021, from 

Suliman, A. (2021). Japanese death row inmates sue over same-day notification of executions. Retrieved 8 November 2021, from