The third event in the Japanese Studies Seminar Series 2016-17 with guest speaker, Dr Mai Sato.
Japan, unbeknownst to many, retains the death penalty, and still executes criminal offenders to this day. The Japanese government’s official justification for preserving the death penalty is that the majority of the public is overwhelming in favour of this method of criminal punishment. They argue that support for the death penalty is so strong and entrenched in Japanese culture that abolition is not possible. Analysis of the Japanese government’s data from 1967 and 2014, and of new polls conducted by Sato, reveal that – contrary to the government’s claim that there is an ‘80% majority support’ for the death penalty – the Japanese public is more discerning in its attitude and is, in fact, largely ready for abolition of capital punishment. The report is accompanied by a documentary – The Wavering Public? The Death Penalty, Justice and Public Opinion – which provides a rare insight into public perceptions of this controversial topic in Japan. 135 ordinary citizens gather for two days in one room where they listen, discuss, and deliberate on crime and punishment. The film explores what the death penalty means to ordinary citizens living in a retentionist state – one in which much of the practice surrounding the death penalty remains secretive and discreet.
The documentary is 29 minutes long, Dr Sato's talk will be 15 minutes which will be followed by a 30 minute Q&A session.
Dr Mai Sato holds a PhD from the School of Law, King’s College London. Her monograph, The Death Penalty in Japan: Will the Public Tolerate Abolition? (Springer, 2014), was awarded the Young Criminologist Award 2014 from the Japanese Association of Sociological Criminology. She worked at the Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford, and at the Institute for Criminal Policy, Birkbeck, University of London, before joining the School of Law, University of Reading, as Lecturer from September 2015.