Death row inmates [in Japan] do not know until the morning of their last day that their number is up. It could be next week, next month, or years away. But for four, the gallows suddenly came Monday.
The condemned, and their next of kin, are purposely kept in the dark about their fate by the government until the time to hang arrives. As one Justice Ministry official put it, this is to lessen the mental torture of an inmate waiting to die, but critics have long denounced this logic as the exact opposite of the torturous truth.
The four hanged Monday were no exception, and now 94 others sit on death rows nationwide, never knowing when the knock on the door will come.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
No Man [in Japan] Knows ... the Hour ...
Setsuko Kamiya, Day of Hanging Comes without Warning, Japan Times (Dec. 26, 2006):