Judicial Precedents

A Judgment of the Grand Bench of Japan's Supreme Court, March 12, 1948

The death penalty as a punishment is not generally nor immediately considered to constitute "cruel punishment" as mentioned in Article 36 of the Constitution. Of course, as in the case of any other criminal punishment, we must call the death penalty a cruel punishment if the method some other aspect of execution is regarded as brutal from a humane point of view and in the context of the times and circumstances. Thus, in the future, if a law should be enacted that provides for a gruesome execution method, such as burning at the stake, crucifixion, the gibbeting of the head, or boiling in a cauldron, that law shall be said to violate Article 36 of the Constitution.

A Judgment of the Grand Bench of Japan's Supreme Court, April 6, 1955

At present, the execution methods for the death penalty that are used in other countries are judicial hanging, beheading, shooting, electrocution, the gas chamber, and so on. On comparing and examining them, though it is argued that they have merits and demerits, the Court does not find that the method of judicial hanging used in our country today is especially cruel from the standpoint of humanitarianism and compared to other execution methods. Thus, the arguments that judicial hanging violates Article 36 of the Constitution are groundless.