Japan Federation of Bar Associations letter to Steven Kay QC on Historic Decision Regarding Death Penalty


Dear Steven Kay, QC,

I hope that you are doing well, and I thank you again for all of your efforts in helping to ensure the Japan Federation of Bar Associations Death Penalty Abolition Committee visit to the United Kingdom was successful and informative. I am writing you this e-mail to inform you of some rather dramatic developments with respect to the movement to abolish the death penalty in Japan. I am pleased to report that this past Friday the Japan Federation of Bar Associations formally declared its opposition to the death penalty, and called for the abolition of the death penalty in Japan by 2020, to coincide with a UN human rights conference to be held in Japan in that year.

This is an event of historic proportions, as it represents the first time that the JFBA has taken a stance on the issue. There was spirited debate on the matter at the JFBA convention, as attorneys who represented crime victims argued strenuously against the adoption of the declaration. A key, dramatic moment occurred when an impassioned, recorded message advocating for abolition from Ambassador Hitchens was screened for the delegates, a message that was applauded and well-received by many in the crowd. In the end, the vote was 546 to 96 in favor of issuing the declaration, with 144 delegates abstaining.

While the members of the Committee consider the issuing of the declaration to be an important success, we are also aware that this is simply one step of what will be a long process to abolish the death penalty in Japan, particularly where a significant majority of the population continues to support capital punishment. Nevertheless, we believe the declaration will help frame the debate and will sharpen the issues in the process to come, and none of it would have been possible were it not for your continued support and encouragement.

Best Regards,

Kenji Hashidate


Image source: globallawsummit.com

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