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Japan MPs propose four-year moratorium on executions

[JURIST] A multi-party coalition of Japanese parliamentarians said Monday that they have drafted a bill proposing a four-year moratorium on the death penalty and giving convicts already on death row life sentences without the possibility of parole. The bill is likely to face opposition from Japanese Minister of Justice Kunio Hatoyama, who is a supporter of the death penalty [JURIST news archive]. Japan previously maintained an unofficial moratorium on capital punishments between 1989 and 1993, as anti-death penalty justice ministers refused to sign execution orders.

Last December, Japanese officials publicly disclosed the identities [JURIST report] of three executed death row inmates for the first time. The Justice Ministry of Japan [official website] said the policy was designed to increase understanding about the death penalty. Previously only the number of prisoners executed and the time of their execution was made publicly available. In August 2007, Japan's national bar association called for a moratorium on the death penalty [press release, in Japanese; JURIST report] until new safeguards are enacted to prevent wrongful executions based on dubious evidence. Japanese courts rely heavily on confessions, often obtained by police after prolonged interrogations. BBC News has more.

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