Parliamentary question by Olivier Dupuis (NI) to the Commission and answer given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission

Parliamentary questions
by Olivier Dupuis (NI) to the Commission
(20 August 2002)

Subject: Possible execution of Mr Omori Katsuhisa in Japan

Mr Omori Katsuhisa, 53, who is under sentence of death, could be executed within the next few days. As more than one execution is usually carried out at the same time in Japan, there are fears that other executions will take place in August. Executions are carried out in secret; there is consequently no official confirmation of the names of individuals scheduled to be executed.

Omori Katsuhisa was arrested on 10 August 1976 on charges of having planted and detonated a bomb in prefectural government offices in Hokkaido in the north of Japan, in March of that year. His death sentence became final when his appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court in July 1994. It appears that Omori Katsuhisa's lawyer was preparing a fresh appeal when it emerged that his client's execution was imminent.

Does the Commission realise that Omori Katsuhisa's execution could very well take place within the next few days? Has it already called on the Japanese authorities not to carry out that execution or that of others sentenced to death? What moves has it made, or what moves does it intend to make, to persuade the Japanese Government to introduce a moratorium on capital punishment, as Parliament called for in the resolution it adopted in June 2002?

Answer given by Mr Patten
on behalf of the Commission
(13 September 2002)

The Commission has actively supported the Union's efforts to work for the abolition of the death penalty in Japan. Union Heads of Mission prepared a report on the death penalty in Japan in December 2001. An Union troika démarche, addressed to the Japanese Minister of Justice, was subsequently carried out on 18 February 2002 with a full explanation of the Union's position on the death penalty.

Moreover, in February 2002, the Union Troika in Tokyo was given a permanent mandate to carry out démarches on the death penalty and is engaged in an active dialogue with the Japanese Parliamentary League for the Abolition of the Death Penalty. The subject is kept under review by the Heads of Mission with a view to further initiatives, including on this particular case.

As regards M. Omori Katsuhisa, the Commission notes that the Japanese Ministry of Justice announces executions after they have taken place. The fact that no such announcement has been made suggests that the execution has not yet been carried out.

Mr Omori Katsuhisa has appealed for a retrial in July 2002, and the Parliamentary League has requested the Ministry of Justice not to execute Mr Omori Katsuhisa before the end of the retrial. Mr. Kamei, the President of the Parliamentary League, has also requested Justice Minister Morayama not to execute Mr Omori Katsuhisa outside the session period of the Japanese Parliament (which has ended).