Three death row inmates in Japan are seeking an injunction against their executions, claiming the death penalty by hanging is cruel and unconstitutional.
The three convicts held at the Osaka Detention House in western Japan filed a lawsuit demanding such an injunction. They were convicted more than a decade ago. Two are seeking a retrial.
Article 11 of Japan's Penal Code stipulates, "The death penalty is executed by hanging at a penal institution."
In the lawsuit filed with the Osaka District Court, the convicts claim that execution by hanging is cruel and inhumane, and violates the International Covenants on Human Rights.
The three also claim it violates Article 36 of Japan's Constitution, which forbids cruel punishment.
In addition to an injunction, the inmates are seeking compensation from the state for the years of dread they have suffered since they were handed the death sentence.
The convicts note that the method of execution in Japan has not changed in 140 years.
They are appealing to the government to disclose to the public how executions are carried out, and to put the matter to debate.
The convicts' lawyer Mizutani Kyoji says the death penalty is aimed at making criminals pay for their offenses with their lives, not suffer pain. He points out that other countries have adopted methods of execution that involve less suffering.