Death Row Inmates In Japan Sue Government Over ‘Inhumane’ Same-Day Executions
| Last updated
Two death row inmates in Japan are suing the government over the way prisoners are notified just hours before their death sentence is due to be carried out.
They have demanded change and compensation for what their lawyer calls 'inhumane' practice, Reuters reports.
Currently, capital punishment in Japan is conducted by hanging. Inmates are not informed their sentence is set to be carried out until hours beforehand.
Human rights groups such as Amnesty International have demanded change for decades.
However, this is believed to be the first time prisoners have taken legal action over the practice.
On Thursday (4 November), the two death row prisoners filed a lawsuit in a district court in the western city of Osaka.
Lawyer Yutaka Ueda told the publication he believed the practice to be illegal as it didn't allow enough time for prisoners to file an objection.
He has asked for change - along with 22 million yen (£144,000) in compensation.
He said: "Death row prisoners live in fear every morning that that day will be their last.
"It's extremely inhumane.
"Japan is really behind the international community on this."
Ueda added: "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.
"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."
Ueda concludes: "This system is badly mistaken - and we would like the public to turn their eyes to the issue."
The Japanese Justice Ministry said there's 112 people currently sentenced to death in Japan, but no prisoners have been executed for almost two years.
Public polls are largely in favour of capital punishment, which is usually used for those convicted of murder.
The US and Japan are believed to be the only two industrialised democracies that still carry out the death penalty.