Thursday, April 17, 2008

Execution Broadcast

"TOKYO (Reuters) - A Japanese radio station will broadcast a 1955 tape of an execution in a special program next month, a rare move to raise public awareness as the government increases the frequency at which it hangs death row inmates.

"The tape, from a prison in Osaka, western Japan, includes voices from the condemned prisoner and a prison guard, and the sound of the rope stretching when the inmate was hanged, said Katsuhiko Shimizu at Nippon Cultural Broadcasting Inc, a private radio station.

"Educating the public about executions was becoming important before the start of a lay judge system next year in which citizens would help hand down verdicts and sentences for serious crimes together with professional judges, he said.

""Some people support executions from the standpoint of victims, while those opposed say human rights of death row inmates should be respected, but we can't form an opinion unless we really know what executions are about," said Shimizu, a programming supervisor.

"It is not clear when the inmate in the tape was hanged, and he will be introduced only by his initials.

"The 55-minute program will also include interviews with prison guards, public prosecutors and journalists who have covered executions.

"Japan executed four convicted murderers just last week, in line with Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama's policy of reducing the number of prisoners on death row.

"The hangings brought to 10 the number of executions under Hatoyama, who took up his post last August, and came only two months after the last round of executions, an unusually short period in Japan. Opinion polls show most Japanese support capital punishment although human rights groups such as Amnesty International condemn the practice.

"The government began revealing names and details of those hanged from December in a new policy aimed at bolstering support for executions.

By Chisa Fujioka/Valerie Lee (Reuters, 4/16/2008), Link to article (last visited 4/17/2008)

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