Give Fair Trial to Longest Serving Death Row Inmate


Target: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Goal: Do not block the retrial of longtime death row inmate Hakamada Iwao

Hakamada Iwao has spent four decades on death row, and the majority of his incarceration was spent in solitary confinement. Human rights organization, Amnesty International, has urged Japan to hold a retrial for Iwao, as evidence doesn’t support him being the murderer of four people. It is imperative that this retrial does not get blocked by prosecutors now that the country has decided to go forward with this decision.

It’s believed that Hakamada Iwao is the longest serving death row inmate in the world and unfortunately he spent most of his incarceration in solitary confinement, where his mental health has deteriorated from decades of isolation. The man has also lived in paranoia and fear; he is constantly wondering if the next day would be the day he dies.

Amnesty International is pushing for a retrial based on contradicting evidence, and Iwao’s confession during the trial. Iwao was convicted for the murder of his boss, his boss’ wife, and their two children. Iwao confessed to the murder, but later retracted his statement in court when it was revealed that police officers beat and threaten him for 20 days for a confession. Forensic samples show no match between Iwao’s DNA and samples on the clothes the prosecution alleges the murderer wore. Also, one of the three judges who convicted Iwao believes that he was innocent. With these facts in mind, Iwao deserves a retrial.

Unfortunately, the Japanese justice system relies heavily on confessions obtained through torture or other ill-treatment. Used in these interrogation techniques is sleep deprivation, beatings, intimidation, and forcing detainees to sit or stand for long periods of time. There have been calls to drastically reform the justice system and the trial of  Hakamada Iwao could be a step towards this much needed reform. Sign this petition and ensure that Iwao’s retrial does not get blocked.


Dear Prime Minister Shinzo Abe,

It has come to my attention that the longest serving death row inmate is up for a retrial after spending 40 years in prison. Most of Hakamada Iwao’s time was spent in solitary confinement, where his mental health deteriorated due to prolonged isolation. This man has also lived in fear as he constantly wonders if today, or the next day is the day he dies. This case has been brought to my attention because of the chance that Iwao could be innocent.

I understand that police officers beat and threatened Iwao for 20 days to get him to confess to the murder. This practice should be outlawed, and confessions obtained through these methods should never be used in court. It’s obvious to me that the police officers merely wanted someone to blame. Therefore I ask that Iwao’s retrial does not get blocked and that he has a fair trial.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: SalFalko via flickr

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182 Signatures

  • Amy Wilson
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