Thursday, January 29, 2009

Japan Executes Four by Hanging

CNN reports on the execution in Japan of four men convicted of murder.

All four men were hanged, Japan's primary method of execution, the Justice Ministry said. The ministry identified the inmates as: 58-year-old Tadashi Makino, convicted of murdering four women in separate home invasion robberies; 44-year-old Yukinari Kawamura and 39-year-old Tetsuya Sato, both convicted of killing two women and burning their bodies in steel barrels; and 32-year-old Shojiro Nishimoto, convicted of murdering four people in separate home invasion robberies.

Unlike the typical executions in the United States, these four were accompanied by very little public opposition. Amnesty International spokesman Makoto Teranaka said that the "Japanese government's explanation was that public opinion favored the executions of these men."

That's a pretty strong public opinion. In America, it seems that even a minority of people opposed to capital punishment visibly demonstrate their displeasure.

Here's the part that really caught my attention.

According to Amnesty International, 59 nations still allow the death penalty for what the organization calls "ordinary crimes." The group describes "exceptional crimes" as those committed in circumstances such as war.

The vast majority of executions occur in a handful of nations: the United States, China, Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, Amnesty International said.

How do American proponents of capital punishment feel about being in this company? Aren't those who favor the death penalty often among the most vocal detractors of these countries? What could explain this? What's your opinion?

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