Justice Minister Toshio Ogawa, talking about his recent decision to execute three inmates, says that he will not hesitate to send more death row inmates to the gallows.
He stated that there is a broad support for death penalty in the Japanese society and as a justice minister he has a duty to issue executions. He emphasized that lay judge trials have resulted in death sentences and the majority of the population supports capital punishment in recent surveys.
His two predecessors had different views on execution, which resulted in a 20-month blank period of executions. Satsuki Eda, then Justice Minister expressed reservations in August 2011 that it is time to consider the issue. Ogawa’s immediate predecessor Hideo Hiraoka also emphasized the need for a national debate. Read more about Ogawa’s views on death penalty here.
Although Ogawa suggested that those death row inmates who are seeking retrial are unlikely to be executed, the standard for determining who will be executed is still unclear. Recently, it was revealed that there was an instance in 2004 where an inmate who was preparing to request a retrial became a candidate, and execution was averted at the last minute. Read more about this news here (in Japanese).