Today is the European and World Day against the Death Penalty. This has been marked in Europe by a Joint Declaration by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Secretary of the Council of Europe. Ambassadors to Japan of the European Union and its Member States, together with the Ambassadors of Norway and Switzerland commend the declaration, and have agreed the following message:
'The European Union and its Member States, together with Norway and Switzerland are close, like-minded partners of Japan. Our shared values have always been the foundation of this partnership and we work together on a wide range of human rights concerns around the world. Hoping to deepen this partnership, we once again invite Japan to join the growing community of nations which have put an end to the use of the death penalty.
There is a clear international trend towards abolition of the death penalty. It has been abolished in all EU Member States as well as in Norway and Switzerland. Japan is now in a minority of countries that still carries out executions. The EU is active worldwide in encouraging those countries to put in place a moratorium on executions, as a first step towards a complete abolition of the death penalty.
Taking into account the voices of those who, in Japan and abroad, call for a thorough review of capital punishment in this country, we invite the Government to promote an open, facts-based debate on the issue. Such a debate would allow the moral arguments around capital punishment to be heard, alongside the voices of people affected by violent crime, those of the victims of miscarriages of justice, and of the families of executed prisoners. It would also allow the public to weigh for themselves the experience from other countries worldwide that the death penalty is a form of cruelty and the evidence that it does not have a deterrent effect.'