US Alone Among G7 Countries in Using Capital Punishment Last Year

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Special to the Vanguard

The Death Penalty Information Center had a brief report last week that found that Japan did not carry out any executive in 2023.  That means that the United States was the only Group of Seven (G7) leading industrialized democracies to have executive people in 2023.

Japan only imposed three new death sentences.

According to DPIC, “Commentators have cited a number of reasons to explain the pause. Some have opined that Japanese officials were concerned about heightened international scrutiny as Japan presided over the G7 in 2023.”

Others have noted the resignation of f the justice minister in 2022 made it politically difficult to schedule executions in 2023.

According to their report, in 2022, “Yasuhiro Hanashi was forced to resign as justice minister after coming under fire for a remark he made about the death penalty.”

According to the Asahi Shimbun, “Hanashi made a joke out of his duty to authorize executions, effectively saying it was the only time a justice minister comes to national attention.”

This made it difficult politically, for Ken Saito, his successor, to authorize executions.

At the same time, DPIC noted, “JM Saito was also contending with revelations that a number of prison guards had assaulted prisoners, and subsequent changes in the Japanese cabinet in 2023 also made the scheduling of executions a lesser priority.”

Under Japanese law, the Justice Minister must “schedule an execution within six months of when a death sentence is finalized, but in practice, prisoners spend an average of about 15 years on death row while their sentences are reviewed.”

The country currently has 106 people on death row.

“Japan’s death penalty law requires that executions must be carried out in utmost secrecy. Death-sentenced prisoners are kept in strict solitary confinement and monitored by 24-hour surveillance cameras,” DPIC reported.

In the US, 24 people were executed in the US as of November 30.  They were located in just five states – Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, Florida and Alabama.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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