Japan Executions Seem Excessive?

Japan ExecutionsJapan’s secret executions seem to be a bit excessive, considering the speed in which they were carried out. Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, came under criticism by Amnesty and the European Union for these recent executions, reported The Guardian. A total of eight people have been executed by hanging since Abe took office. This was nowhere near the hundreds executed in Iran or China, who leads the world in executions by over 2000. However, Japan’s executions seem more disquieting for having been carried out in secret and the speed in which they were.

Japan is not new to the practice of executing its criminals and traitors, having had several periods in its history where executions were prevalent and quite brutal. Such methods included burning, crucifixion, being drawn and quartered, and impalement by spear. Additionally, samurai who had failed their masters were required to commit seppuku—ritual suicide by disembowelment.

Some of the methods of executions throughout the ages in many cultures included crushing (usually by elephants), disembowelment, stoning, flaying, sawing, boiling, and burning as well as the usual suspects mentioned above. Often these executions were public to instill fear in the populace or humiliate the victim. Sometimes victims were even required to dig their own graves. Modern methods of execution includes gassing, lethal injection, hanging, death by firing squad, or if carried out somewhere other than a set location, a single or double bullet to the head—usually in the back, but sometimes in the forehead.

The US executes its criminals, though policy is set by individual states. Usually there is an extended period between sentencing and the actual execution, sometimes decades.

Why were these eight executions in Japan of such interest and seem so excessive as to prompt protests from Amnesty and the EU? Perhaps because they were carried out in secret and the victims informed only hours before. Still, that doesn’t seem particularly unusual considering 80% of the Japanese populace favors this form of capital punishment, and especially not in light of China’s 2000+ executions. Iran’s 600+ executions, for the most part, were carried out for theocratic reasons. Arguably those reasons constitute “treason” in the eyes of the government, but depending on what country you’re standing in, that’s still mighty thin ice as justification to put someone to death.

Although Amnesty and the EU might consider Japan’s executions “rushed”, Japan maintains that careful consideration and extenuating circumstances in each case governed the decision to carry out this extreme form of justice. So perhaps these eight criminals truly did deserve to be put to death. However, it begs to question that as a world civilization, have humans not advanced far enough in social customs that alternative solutions cannot be found for capital punishment?

Perhaps that is the wrong way to look at it. No matter how far humanity has advanced, if people find it necessary to go out and kill other people for whatever purpose, execution may simply be a matter of “reaping what you sow”. That would certainly seem to be the case in these seemingly excessive eight executions Japan has carried out.

By Lee Birdine

The Guardian
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