Japan's death row prisoners live in fear that every morning will be their last, says lawyer. Inmates sue over 'extremely inhumane' same day executions.

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  • Two Japanese prisoners on death row are suing over same-day executions, according to Reuters.

  • Their lawyer called it 'inhumane,' saying it allows no time to prepare for an appeal.

  • Amnesty International also protests the practice. The men are suing for $194,000.

Two Japanese inmates on death row are suing the government over the practice of executing prisoners with just a few hours' notice, according to Reuters.

The two men filed suit in a district court in Osaka on Thursday and are asking for 22 million yen ($194,000) in compensation, the agency reported.

Japanese prisoners on death row are informed about their executions on the same day, a practice that their lawyer argued gives them no time to lodge an appeal, their lawyer Yutaka Ueda was reported as saying. Furthermore, he said, it provides no time to prepare mentally.

"Death row prisoners live in fear every morning that that day will be their last. It's extremely inhumane," Reuters reported him as saying.

The practice has long been decried by human rights campaigners. In a 2009 press release discussing the mental health of death row inmates in Japan, Amnesty International noted that the same-day executions, then-Health Director James Walsh called it "cruel, inhuman and degrading."

"Each day could be their last and the arrival of a prison officer with a death warrant would signal their execution within hours," the release continued. "Some live like this year after year, sometimes for decades."

Ueda also said that the practice contravened Japan's criminal code and said there is no law mandating it. "The central government has said this is meant to keep prisoners from suffering before their execution," he noted, according to Reuters.

One hundred twelve people are presently on death row, although there have been no executions - which is done by hanging - in two years, the agency reported.

Japan is one of a handful of industrialized nations - including the US and China - which still have the death penalty, although many have not performed any executions for years, the BBC reported.

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