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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Japanese Execute Criminals with Impunity: Should India Follow suite.

Death for heinous crimes that are termed the ‘rarest of rare cases’ is a debated point. Most countries in the world including the USA carry out executions fairly regularly. Death sentence is not part of punishments only in the EU. Indians rarely look to China and Japan which have the death penalty on their statute books and regularly enforce it. Japan is a progressive country with a very ancient civilization. The Japanese pride themselves on their ancient culture and its humanitarian and esthetic values. This has not stopped the Japanese from executing hardened criminals. The executions have been fairly regular, except in 2011 when no execution took place. As reported by Sky news the Japanese Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki rejected all mercy petitions of 3 accused rapists and murders and they were duly hanged on 21 February 2013. These were the first executions in 2013 after 2 hangings in September 2012. It is worth examining the crimes of the 3 men executed. - Kaoru Kobayashi aged 44 was the first to be sent to the gallows. He was accused of abducting and raping a 7 year old girl, before murdering her. He followed up by sending photographs of the girls’ body to her mother - The second man named Masahiro Kanagawa aged 29 was executed after he was convicted of killing one man and injuring 7 others in a knifing spree at a shopping mall in the capital city of Tokyo. He appeared to be habitual killer as he had earlier killed one man. - The third criminal hanged is Keiki Muto 62 who had strangled a bar owner to death in a premeditated act over a dispute involving money. These 3 persons hanged and their crimes do not appear to be serious in the Indian context, as in India reprieves are granted for heinous crimes like the killers of Rajiv Gandhi and the associates of the dacoit Veerapan who killed 21 policemen being spared the noose. There are over 400 men on death row in India and over the last 10 years only 3 criminals have been executed. Two of the executions were of hardened terrorists who were only hanged after a public clamor for the same. The adage justice delayed is justice denied holds true even in death sentences. To keep a criminal on death row for years and years without a decision, defeats the very purpose of having death as a punishment in the law books. In contrast to dithering on death sentences in India, the Japanese have been executing criminals regularly during the last 20 years (except in 2011). That could be the reason for the low crime rate in Japan. Perhaps the Indian state will act now. People are of the view that in case death punishment remains in the IPC (Indian Penal Code), then it must be acted upon. It is a different story in case the death penalty is erased from the statute books like in the EU.