Free Butterflies

Elizabeth Kubler Ross is a psychiatrist who has studied the relationship between life and death.

When she visited a Nazi concentration camp after the end of WWII, she discovered many butterflies depicted on the walls of prisons for Jewish children.

Children has used their fingernails to draw the butterflies before being sent to the gas chamber. The appearance of so many butterfly drawings let her to wonder about their meaning?

After extensive research she concluded that the butterflies indicated the children’s readiness to die. In her research she discovered that patients who are dying of an acute illness often depicted butterflies before their death. She described this practice as a cocoon psychological state. For the patients, their soul was about to fly away from their bodies

However, I think that butterflies can be interpreted expressing another idea as well: the desire to be free. Just as people who suffer from the severe illness long for the freedom from their physical pain, the Jewish children – imprisoned, abused, starved, on the verge of being killed – desired their freedom. People dream of living in sunlight (freedom) more strongly when they are in severe incarceration even more than their usual situation because people are meant to live in freedom.

In response to the horrific human abuse during the Holocaust, the norm of universal human rights has become a dominant feature of the contemporary era. Post-World War II the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was the first enunciation. Human rights have been instantiated through various actions. EU member states have universally abolished the death penalty, and abolishing death penalty is one of the conditions for a new state to join EU.  In 1998, the EU decided to strengthen its anti-death penalty activity, demanding an end to the death penalty globally and calling for moratorium on its use in the meantime.

The EU uses diplomatic “démarches” to pressure other states to eliminate the death penalty. It also uses bargaining leverage to pressure states. During the ongoing process of negotiating a Free Trade Agreement between Japan and the EU, the bloc has demanded that Japan abolishing death penalty. In Japan, death penalty is still used in all localities.

Amnesty International believes that the Japanese practice of capital punishment is cruel because inmates on death row do not know when the death penalty will be carried out. The convicts are only informed the morning of the day they will be hanged. Those facing the death penalty therefore, suffer from a fear that the judgment will be carried out at any moment.

Recent survey show that in Japan, approximately 80% of citizens support the death penalty. The major reasons why people support death penalty is to keep public order (it is believed the death penalty deters crimes). Another frequently cited reason is to fulfill the victim’s family’s desire for revenge.

Professor Shigemitsu Dando, an opponent of death penalty, recognizes that the opinions of supporters of death penalty are understandable. However, he believes that we should oppose the death penalty for one primary reason: the possibility of a wrongful conviction. While Professor Dando was a judge, he faced a death penalty case in which the defendant claimed to be innocent. Most of the evidence, however, seemed to show that he was guilty. He thought that the court needed to still investigate the case more depth and he hesitated in sentencing the defendant to death. However, because he was merely an assistant judge at the time he did not have much authority.

As most Japanese people support the death penalty, the demarche by the EU demanding the abolishment of the death penalty will be difficult to accomplish.

Therefore, I argue that two practical ways to decrease the number of people executed by the state is to, one, apply a more selective criteria when when the death penalty is under consideration, and two, demand that the Supreme Court of Japan reassess cases where the plaintiff is claiming to be wrongfully convicted.

Masaru Okunishi was sentenced to death in 1972 after five people died drinking poisoned wine in 1961. However, he has maintained his innocence since being incarcerated and is demanding  that his case be reviewed. In this, he is supported by the  Japan Federal Bar Association.

On May 15, lawyers on Okunishi’s behalf submitted the request for appeal to the Supreme Court, the ninth such appeal he as filed.

Masaru Okunishi is currently in the hospital, suffering from illnesses related to his age. At 89 years old, time is running out for Okunishi to clear his name.

This section is dedicated to everyone who wishes freedom from wrongful incarceration.

Elizabeth Kubler Ross is a psychiatrist who has studied the relationship between life and death.

When she visited a Nazi concentration camp after the end of WWII, she discovered many butterflies depicted on the walls of prisons for Jewish children.

Children has used their fingernails to draw the butterflies before being sent to the gas chamber. The appearance of so many butterfly drawings let her to wonder about their meaning?

After extensive research she concluded that the butterflies indicated the children’s readiness to die. In her research she discovered that patients who are dying of an acute illness often depicted butterflies before their death. She described this practice as a cocoon psychological state. For the patients, their soul was about to fly away from their bodies

However, I think that butterflies can be interpreted expressing another idea as well: the desire to be free. Just as people who suffer from the severe illness long for the freedom from their physical pain, the Jewish children – imprisoned, abused, starved, on the verge of being killed – desired their freedom. People dream of living in sunlight (freedom) more strongly when they are in severe incarceration even more than their usual situation because people are meant to live in freedom.

In response to the horrific human abuse during the Holocaust, the norm of universal human rights has become a dominant feature of the contemporary era. Post-World War II the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was the first enunciation. Human rights have been instantiated through various actions. EU member states have universally abolished the death penalty, and abolishing death penalty is one of the conditions for a new state to join EU.  In 1998, the EU decided to strengthen its anti-death penalty activity, demanding an end to the death penalty globally and calling for moratorium on its use in the meantime.

The EU uses diplomatic “démarches” to pressure other states to eliminate the death penalty. It also uses bargaining leverage to pressure states. During the ongoing process of negotiating a Free Trade Agreement between Japan and the EU, the bloc has demanded that Japan abolishing death penalty. In Japan, death penalty is still used in all localities.

Amnesty International believes that the Japanese practice of capital punishment is cruel because inmates on death row do not know when the death penalty will be carried out. The convicts are only informed the morning of the day they will be hanged. Those facing the death penalty therefore, suffer from a fear that the judgment will be carried out at any moment.

Recent survey show that in Japan, approximately 80% of citizens support the death penalty. The major reasons why people support death penalty is to keep public order (it is believed the death penalty deters crimes). Another frequently cited reason is to fulfill the victim’s family’s desire for revenge.

Professor Shigemitsu Dando, an opponent of death penalty, recognizes that the opinions of supporters of death penalty are understandable. However, he believes that we should oppose the death penalty for one primary reason: the possibility of a wrongful conviction. While Professor Dando was a judge, he faced a death penalty case in which the defendant claimed to be innocent. Most of the evidence, however, seemed to show that he was guilty. He thought that the court needed to still investigate the case more depth and he hesitated in sentencing the defendant to death. However, because he was merely an assistant judge at the time he did not have much authority.

As most Japanese people support the death penalty, the demarche by the EU demanding the abolishment of the death penalty will be difficult to accomplish.

Therefore, I argue that two practical ways to decrease the number of people executed by the state is to, one, apply a more selective criteria when when the death penalty is under consideration, and two, demand that the Supreme Court of Japan reassess cases where the plaintiff is claiming to be wrongfully convicted.

Masaru Okunishi was sentenced to death in 1972 after five people died drinking poisoned wine in 1961. However, he has maintained his innocence since being incarcerated and is demanding  that his case be reviewed. In this, he is supported by the  Japan Federal Bar Association.

On May 15, lawyers on Okunishi’s behalf submitted the request for appeal to the Supreme Court, the ninth such appeal he as filed.

Masaru Okunishi is currently in the hospital, suffering from illnesses related to his age. At 89 years old, time is running out for Okunishi to clear his name.

This section is dedicated to everyone who wishes freedom from wrongful incarceration.

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