Does the Death Penalty Deter Homicide in Japan?
Source TitleALC Briefing Paper Series
PublisherAsian Law Centre, University of Melbourne
AffiliationAsian Law Centre
Document TypeWorking Paper
CitationsJohnson, D. T. (2017). Does the Death Penalty Deter Homicide in Japan?. Asian Law Centre, University of Melbourne.
Access StatusOpen Access
Open Access URLPublished version
Unlike the United States, where death penalty and deterrence studies are legion, there has been little research about the death penalty and deterrence in Japan, though the paucity of studies has not discouraged citizens and officials from making confident claims about this issue. Indeed, deterrence has been called “the core of argumentation for and against” the death penalty in Japan. Serious research on this subject has been all but impossible because of difficulties obtaining decent crime data from the Japanese government. This paper uses monthly homicide and robbery-homicide statistics that were previously unavailable to examine whether death sentences and executions in Japan deterred these crimes from 1990 to 2010. The main finding is that the death penalty did not deter homicide or robbery-homicide during this period. More research is needed on this subject, but at present the Japanese government has no sound basis for continuing to claim that the country needs to retain the death penalty because it deters heinous crime.
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