TOKYO, Aug. 2 (UPI) — Japan’s justice minister says he does not intend to approve any executions as the number of prisoners on death row has reached a record 120.
The Yomiuri Shimbun reports the last execution in Japan came in July last year and Justice Minister Satsuki Eda has made clear he doesn’t plan to authorize more executions anytime soon.
In a July 26 interview with the newspaper, Eda expressed concerns false charges could lead to executions.
“False charges can be revoked in retrials, but this is impossible after a person has been executed,” he said.
The statement, published Thursday, drew numerous protests from citizens.
In early July, Katsuyuki Nishikawa, chief of the Justice Ministry’s Criminal Affairs Bureau, and others showed Eda documents pointing to parts of the Criminal Procedure Code saying those on death row should be executed within six months of finalization of a death sentence.
The Yomiuri Shimbun said some have questioned whether executions should be halted mainly because of personal beliefs of the justice minister.
“The Criminal Procedure Code stipulates that executions should be performed within six months of the sentence being finalized,” said Osamu Watanabe, a Konan Law School professor and expert on criminal procedure.
“I think the justice minister should act in line with the system and review the possibility of false conviction within the set time limit.”