Japanese lawyers urge country to abolish death penalty

Japanese bar associations have formally adopted a policy against the death penalty for the first time, demanding the government abolish execution by 2020 when Japan hosts the Olympics and an international judicial conference.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations, whose membership is compulsory for more than 37,000 Japanese lawyers, urged the government Friday to introduce life imprisonment to replace execution. The federation cited the risk of wrongful convictions and the lack of evidence it reduces crime.

Japan and the U.S. are the only Group of Seven members that maintain the death penalty, while 140 nations have ended the practice that opponents consider cruel.

The prospect of any change is unclear as the majority of Japanese still support the death penalty.