Introduction: Vox Populi, Vox Dei?
Japan was the first country in the world to abolish the death penalty. No executions were carried out for a period of nearly three-and-a-half centuries, from 810 to 1156 (Kikuta, 2004; Johnson & Zimring, 2009; Schmidt, 2002). Abolition, however, is nowhere to be seen in Japan’s current death penalty policy. While the rest of the world witnesses a steady growth of abolitionist countries, with over two-thirds endorsing it in December 2009 (Amnesty International, 2010), Japan now remains the only democratic and developed country other than the US to retain the death penalty under law and practice. However, the US – although leading the democratic world in terms of mass incarceration – has in recent years shown a marked decline in both death sentences and executions, with New Jersey in 2007 and New Mexico in 2009 abolishing the death penalty (Hood, 2009, pp. 5-6; Amnesty International, 2010).
KeywordsDeath Penalty Criminal Justice System Public Attitude Japanese Government Death Sentence
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