The death penalty in a changing society: a survey of recent developments in Japan
Japan’s society and law in particular has recently undergone some significant changes. This article identifies five of these developments that could potentially impact practices relating to the death penalty there, and investigates the effect that they have had so far. Specifically, the developments introduced are: the amendment of the Prison Law governing for the death penalty; the introduction of citizen participation in death penalty-related trials; the change of power to the Democratic Party of Japan; the adoption of new abolitionist instruments by international and regional organizations in which Japan participates; and, the possible establishment of a National Human Rights Institution with power to make recommendations to the government. I argue that at least some of these developments have had a tangible impact, and at the very least are likely to bring down the veil of secrecy currently shrouding death row inmates.