Remove justice minister from execution process: Hatoyama

The Japan Times: Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2007

Kyodo News

Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama proposed Tuesday scrapping the rule requiring the justice minister's signature for executions because "no one wants to put his signature on an execution order."

Under the Criminal Procedure Law, the justice minister is required to sign and issue an execution order within six months after a death sentence is finalized.

"The law should be abided by," Hatoyama told a news conference after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet resigned. "But no one wants to put his signature on an execution order.

"I wonder if there is any way not to delegate the responsibility solely to the justice minister," he said.

Hatoyama called for devising an "automatic and objective" procedure for executing people without having to involve the justice minister.

Koichi Kikuta, professor emeritus of criminology at Meiji University, said Hatoyama's proposal is not only irresponsible but also an extreme argument, coming from a top member of the administration.

"I believe Justice Minister Hatoyama, who is known for advocating the death sentence, just wants to leave behind an institution for allowing executions at any time," Kikuta said.

Prosecutors usually take care of carrying out criminal sentences. The death penalty requires a justice minister's order based on the rationale its gravity warrants particular prudence.

Hatoyama said his proposal is based on "public trust in Japan's judicial system."

The Japan Times: Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2007

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