Tokyo: With the inauguration of the Democratic Party of Japan-led government, there could be a lull in executions of death-row inmates at least for the time being in Japan, which in recent years has accelerated hangings under Liberal Democratic Party-led governments.
Political commentators say that one notable factor is the appointment of Keiko Chiba as justice minister, who has the final say in authorizing executions. Chiba, a member of
the House of Councillors, has adopted a position against capital punishment and belongs to the non-partisan Parliamentary League for the Abolition of the Death Penalty.
Any move toward executions could also trigger resistance from within Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's Cabinet, as it also includes Shizuka Kamei, leader of the People's New
Party, who leads the parliamentary league, and Mizuho Fukushima, leader of the Social Democratic Party who is staunchly op posed to the death penalty.
After the Cabinet was launched on Wednesday, Chiba told her inaugural news conference that it is her "personal feeling that it would be good" if a move toward abolition of or a
moratorium on the death penalty is taken.
But she also added, "The fact remains that a justice minister is tasked with professional duties under the law. Iam fully aware (a justice minister) is obliged institutionally to
deal with executions."
First Published: Tuesday, September 22, 2009, 16:02