Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
I support the death penalty and there is nothing awry with Justice Minister Eisuke Mori’s plea that civilian lay judges not turn away from death as a sentencing option (“Mori to public: Don’t shy from death penalty,” May 22nd). 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. But so too 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 Mr.
Mori’s call for a broader public debate on the capital punishment issue will lead? I hope it leads somewhere.
Printed on Sunday, Jun 7, 2009 as “The capital punishment debate.”
I wasn’t expecting this letter to be printed, because I wrote it before my letter “Symbolic cleanliness vs. hygiene” which was printed on May 23rd. When I opened the Opinions page and quickly scanned the letter titles before reading the letters I saw “capital punishment”and thought, “Oh, I wrote on that topic recently myself. I wonder what this moron has to say.” And then I saw my name. My position, of course, is that capital punishment is punishment. That is why it is called that. What we ought to do is focus more on questions of the morality of punishment than on the efficacy of crime prevention, or the abomination of the wrongly convicted. Although I suppose my detractors in the reading public will question why I don’t go ahead and explain why I support capital punishment, I have already made my argument for capital punishment in previous letters - years ago. This response to a news article about comments attributed to the Justice Minster Eisuke Mori is not the place to repeat my arguments once more.