Earlier this month, two unidentified people on death row filed a suit in Osaka District Court, demanding the government discontinue the practice of not informing condemned prisoners of their execution time until the day it is to take place. The plaintiffs say this protocol, which is not stipulated in the operational rules for executions, violates the Constitution’s Article 31 prohibiting the imposition of criminal penalties without “proper procedure.”

As explained by NHK on its News Web site, the plaintiffs stated that not informing condemned prisoners of the date of their hangings in advance is “exceptionally cruel” in that the prisoner has no time to prepare for their death. Nor does it allow them time to consult lawyers or meet with loved ones. The state has defended the practice by saying it assures the prisoner’s “peace of mind,” since, presumably, informing them of the date beforehand will cause them to be consumed with dread for their remaining time. Prisoners are currently informed of their impending executions one or two hours before they are carried out.

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