[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Sep 17 13:31:37 CDT 2005
Fund enables campaigners to provide support for death row inmates
Assets left by the late mother of a death row inmate have allowed
anti-capital punishment campaigners in Japan to expand financial support
for convicted criminals who receive the death sentence.
Depending on the 10 million yen fund named for Sachiko Daidoji, who died
in May last year at age 83, a group of the activists has decided to
provide 100,000 yen each to several convicts on death row every year so
they can use the money to prepare for petition for retrial.
Moreover, the group encourages the inmates to contribute artistic works
they create in their prison cells, such as essays, poetry and paintings,
for 50,000-yen awards, according to Masakuni Ota, one of the group
"Many death row inmates have no one to depend on and financial problems
have made it difficult for them to seek retrial even if they do not accept
the verdict," said Ota, a Tokyo-based publisher.
"We hope, meanwhile, we can give the inmates, who have communications with
the outside world restricted, an annual opportunity to express themselves
through their works," he said.
Daidoji's 57-year-old son Masashi was sentenced to death after being found
guilty of playing a role in a radical group's 1974 bombing of Mitsubishi
Heavy Industries Ltd.'s building in Tokyo's Marunouchi business district,
which claimed eight lives. He is now seeking a retrial, saying he did not
intend to kill anybody.
His mother was actively involved in the anti-death penalty campaign. It is
believed she made the 10 million yen deposit by selling off her house in
Kushiro, Hokkaido, after her husband's death to move to Saitama Prefecture
so she could more easily visit her son, who is detained in Tokyo.
Her inheritors approved of setting up the "Daidoji Sachiko Fund," saying
they want to use the money to promote overall anti-death penalty
The fund's operators informed inmates with finalized death sentences of
its establishment through their families or lawyers, and among 10
applicants they recently picked 8 as the 1st recipients of the financial
The group believes the 8 face an imminent threat of execution because more
than 5 years have passed since their death sentences were finalized.
The sentence on a death row inmate who was executed on Sept. 16 was
finalized after the Supreme Court rejected his appeal in February 2000,
while another inmate, who was accused of murdering 8 children in Osaka in
a school attack, was hanged in September last year, less than a year after
his sentence became final.
On the awards for artistic works by prisoners, 15 inmates, including those
who are appealing the rulings against them, contributed 21 works in all,
and the group decided to give 50,000 yen to 2 of them who wrote lengthy
One depicts the daily life of a death row inmate, about which people on
the outside have little knowledge, while the other provides a portrait of
his crimes, according to the group.
While both of the award recipients were involved in murders, Ota, also one
of the six judges for the works, said, "We could see how they reflect on
their crimes and how they think about the victims and their bereaved
families (from the perspective of a person on death row)."
Other judges include a prominent art director as well as a bestselling
novelist Otohiko Kaga.
In the discussions for selection, there were also some negative
evaluations of the works, but they decided to deliver the minutes of the
meeting to the applicants without concealment "as we expect them to regard
the feedback from outside people as a source of encouragement," Ota said.
The contributed works will be on display at a public meeting in Tokyo to
mark the Oct. 10 World Day Against the Death Penalty, as designated by the
World Coalition Against Death Penalty.
According to the anti-capital punishment campaigners, there are some 150
convicts on death row in Japan, including those who are appealing their
The death penalty system in Japan has been subject to harsh criticism,
partly because the government does not announce executions -- to either
the inmates or the public -- until the day they take place, while refusing
to disclose the identity of executed inmates.
Moreover, there are no clear standards for courts in handing down death
sentences or life imprisonment, allowing the Japanese justice system to
sentence some criminals to death when they actually deserve a life
sentence, a research group under the Japan Federation of Bar Associations
Given such circumstances, the federation has urged the government to
suspend executions until it drastically improves the problems surrounding
capital punishment, while the Japan Parliamentary League Against the Death
Penalty plans to submit a bill to the Diet to suspend executions and
replace the death penalty with life imprisonment without parole.
According to the federation, 76 countries, including Japan and the United
States, maintained capital punishment as of December last year, while 120
countries have terminated it, making abolishment of the death penalty an
(source : Kyodo News)
Policeman who murdered 2 women hanged in Osaka
Kyodo NewsA policeman convicted of double-murder was hanged Friday at the
Osaka Detention House, where he had been on death row, sources said.
Kanagawa Prefectural policeman Susumu Kitagawa, 58, was convicted of
robbing, raping and murdering a girl in Chiba Prefecture in 1983 and
slaying a woman in Kochi Prefecture in 1989 in a similar manner.
Kitagawa was the 8th inmate executed since Prime Minister Junichiro
Koizumi took office in April 2001.
The execution was the 1st signed by Chieko Noono, who became justice
minister last September. It has been about 1 year since the last
executions, when Mamoru Takuma went to the gallows for murdering 8
children in Osaka in 2001 in a school attack, as did triple-murderer
mobster Sueo Shinmaki.
The Supreme Court in February 2000 rejected Kitagawa's appeal of his
Kitagawa, from Kochi Prefecture, raped and strangled an 18-year-old girl
in the city of Chiba and took 15,000 yen from her in August 1983, and
raped and murdered a 24-year-old woman in Kochi and took 20,000 yen from
her in February 1989, the top court said.
Amnesty International Japan criticized Friday's execution, saying Japan is
one of the few developed countries in the world with the death penalty and
it was unaccountable to the public as it did not disclose sufficient
information on the deaths.
The Justice Ministry only announces an execution has taken place and how
many have been hanged, a practice begun in November 1998.
The human rights group also criticized the timing of the execution, saying
it was carried out after Sunday's House of Representative election and
before the Diet was scheduled to convene next Wednesday.
"We are against the death penalty, as it damages human dignity," the group
said in a statement. "We strongly protest the government's move."
Go Kajitani, president of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, said
in a statement it was regrettable the execution was carried out despite
the association's repeated insistence that hangings be suspended until a
thorough national debate on the issue has been held.
(source: The Japan Times)
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