What are the fundamental reasons for abolishing the death penalty system?


According to a government survey, as of January 2015, over 80% of the Japanese population supports the death penalty.

It seems that the opposition is a minority.

From my perspective, it’s a curious phenomenon.

When urged by foreign countries to abolish the death penalty or suspend executions, Japanese citizens tend to become emotional, and intense debates unfold on the internet.

First and foremost, I believe there is a need for a calm discussion.

Below, I will outline the main arguments and contradictions on both sides of the death penalty debate within Japan.

Basis of Support for the Death Penalty Advocates

“The grievances of the victim and their family should be alleviated.”

This implies the need to respond to feelings of revenge.

The Supreme Court also acknowledges the death penalty using the vague expression “public sentiment.”

However, if the family of the victim suggests, “It’s okay, we don’t want the death penalty,”  would it be acceptable to exempt the perpetrator from the death penalty?

It seems unusual for the judgment of the death penalty to be influenced by the thoughts and emotions of the victims at that time.

“Keeping the perpetrator alive poses the risk of them committing the crime again.”

If they are kept in prison, that should be sufficient.

After all, that’s the purpose of prison.

Introducing a life sentence system should be possible.

“Keeping the perpetrator alive doesn’t contribute to society, so it’s okay to kill them.”

This is quite a harsh opinion.

So, does that mean if the perpetrator has advanced expertise or skills, their death penalty could be waived?

“Even if the perpetrator is imprisoned for life, there is no prospect of rehabilitation, making it a waste of taxpayers’ money.”

So, if the perpetrator can pay a substantial amount of money, would waiving the death penalty be acceptable?

“The existence of the death penalty serves as a severe deterrent and prevents other crimes.”

At present, the deterrent effect has not been statistically proven.

Basis of Opposition to the Death Penalty

“Wrongful convictions continue to occur.”

Tragedies in which individuals are falsely accused and framed as criminals due to flaws in the judicial system, evidence fabrication by police organizations, or coerced confessions have occurred countless times in Japan.

Those who suffer from wrongful convictions have their lives turned upside down.

If a wrongful conviction is discovered after executing the death penalty, there is no way to rectify the irreversible damage.

If, hypothetically, a judicial system free from wrongful convictions were established, would those opposing the death penalty shift their stance to supporting it?

“It violates the constitution.”

Article 36 of the Japanese Constitution states, “Torture by any public officer and cruel punishments are absolutely forbidden.”

However, the Supreme Court has stated, “Hanging is a penalty that takes a life but is not cruel.”

Such assertions that hanging is neither cruel nor unconstitutional lack convincing power.

“The death penalty has no deterrent effect on crime.”

That’s correct.

Maintaining the death penalty for the purpose of deterring crime is irrational.

Statistically, it is known that there is no deterrent effect.

My Conclusion: “The Death Penalty Should Be Abolished”

Taking into account the aforementioned points, I would like to express my thoughts as follows:

The perpetrator of a heinous crime is not destined to be born into this world to commit such acts.

Rather, it is the deficiencies and flaws in the societal system, including family and educational environments, that lead to inadequate personality development and maladaptation to the environment.

In essence, the perpetrator is also a victim.

The repercussions of societal system flaws often fall on the socially vulnerable, and particularly in the case of minors, overcoming difficulties through personal effort alone is often impossible.

Those who become a detriment to society serve as a mirror reflecting the flaws and essence of that society and are not unrelated to other members of that society.

Certainly, eliminating troublesome individuals from this world would relieve us from facing the flaws in our societal system and within ourselves.

However, as long as we adopt an attitude of “covering up unpleasant things,” human society will not progress.

Without investigating the causes, engaging in discussions, and implementing measures, leaving the situation unaddressed will inevitably lead to the recurrence of similar events and tragedies.

One can understand this by observing the actions and behavior of retrogressive right-wing politicians who cannot confront reality.

In the event of an incident, it is crucial to address the root causes and implement preventative measures while facing the truth.

Achieving a livable society requires the diligent repetition of these efforts, and supporting the death penalty reflects an easy and passive stance of “covering up unpleasant things” and “getting rid of troubles,” which does not contribute to the progress of human society.

Each citizen has a duty to contribute to the meticulous examination and improvement efforts that may require time, money, and effort, all aimed at realizing a more livable society.

For this painstaking work to be effective, the perpetrators of crimes need to remain alive.

Once they are executed, any possibility of dialogue is lost.

Interrogations, court records, and other documents provide only a fraction of the information and are thus wholly insufficient.

The cost of “executing the death penalty” as a form of “covering up unpleasant things” is substantial and, in the long run, will bring harm to human society.