Japanese death row inmates sue over psychological damage caused by last-minute notice they received of their executions

Two death row inmates in Japan are suing the government for psychological damage over a system issuing last-minute notice to prisoners of their execution. 


The two inmates argue the current system is illegal and are calling for prisoners to receive notice in advance.


The suit filed before the Osaka district court Thursday also seeks compensation of 22 million yen ($193,000) for the distress caused by living with uncertainty about their execution date, according to their lawyer.


‘This tramples on human dignity,’ Yutaka Ueda told AFP.


Death row inmates are usually informed just one to two hours prior to their execution and do not have time to see their lawyer or file a complaint, he explained.


He said ‘They live in fear, thinking every morning “Maybe today is the day” when they hear the sound of guards’ shoes.’


Documents and news archives show that Japan used to give death row inmates more notice, but stopped around 1975.


Japan, where over 100 inmates are awaiting execution, is one of the few developed nations that still have the death penalty.


 Executions are usually implemented long after sentencing, always by hanging. For decades, authorities have always told death row, inmates, just hours before an execution is carried out.