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UN human rights committee urges Japan to abolish death penalty

[JURIST] The UN Human Rights Committee [official website] on Friday urged Japan to take steps to abolish the death penalty [BBC backgrounder], reiterating its concern that the number of crimes punished by death in Japan has not been reduced and that the number of executions has steadily increased. In concluding observations [text, DOC] at its 94th Session in Geneva [materials; press release], the committee also criticized Japan's treatment of death row inmates, who are kept in solitary confinement and are executed without prior notice. The committee urged the Japanese government to "inform the public...about the desirability of abolition," and move to curtail the number of crimes punishable by death with the eventual goal of complete abolition of the death penalty. The committee also recommended that Japan "accept legal responsibility and apologize unreservedly" for forcing Asian women to become "comfort women" [Amnesty backgrounder; JURIST news archive] during World War II. AFP has more.

Japan has resisted international criticism of its system of capital punishment since it ended an unofficial moratorium [JURIST reports] in 1993. In August 2007, the Japanese national bar association called for a formal moratorium on the death penalty [JURIST report] until new safeguards are implemented to prevent wrongful executions.

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