Whilst studies on capital punishment in Japan have been conducted by various scholars from various perspectives, empirical research on the de facto moratorium period is largely unavailable. This thesis aims to investigate how consistently the Japanese government justified capital punishment during the execution-free period from 1989 to 1993. Its primary goal is to throw light on the elite-driven nature of the capital punishment system where important decisions are made within the closed institutional dynamic, often irrespective of domestic or international factors. It will also highlight that capital punishment policy has been dealt with by the Japanese government as an issue of law and order, which does not necessarily invite criticism from human rights perspectives. The thesis then proceeds to empirically examine the governmental discourse on capital punishment from 1980 to 2002. It will contend that investigations from an appropriate approach can make clear the elite-driven nature of capital punishment policy in Japan. Finally, it will suggest implications for the international and domestic anti-death-penalty advocates regarding their campaigns over Japan, and reflect on how this thesis can help tackle future research.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.