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I support the death penalty and there is nothing awry with Justice Minister Eisuke Mori’s plea (in the May 22 article, “Mori to public: Don’t shy from death penalty“) that civilian lay judges not turn away from death as a sentencing option.

But I do worry that if/when lay judges vote in favor of a death sentence, they might adopt the stupidly irresponsible language of professional judges who prevaricate by claiming that the sentence “can’t be helped.” Magistrates and politicians are prone to claim that something “can’t be helped” as a weak and transparent excuse. When Japanese say that something “can’t be helped,” it sets off alarms that add to my lack of trust in Japanese logic or in anything described as “natural.”

The conventional language in support of capital punishment — for example, that it maintains the social order — is wrong, as is the conventional language of the anti-capital punishment camp — that it does not deter crime. The pro and con camps are engaged in theater, so I wonder where Mori’s call for a broader public debate on the capital punishment issue will lead? I hope it leads somewhere.

grant piper

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