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Ian Dunn
625686.  Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:46 pm Reply with quote

I'm surprised no-one has started a thread on Japan yet, but here we go.

A quite interesting news story has come out of Japan today. Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has now taken the job as the voice Ultraman King. Ultraman is one of Japan's most famous superheroes.

It hard to imagine a similar thing happening in Britain. I can't imagine Tony Blair becoming the new voice of Dennis the Menace.

Story from The Guardian

625828.  Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:45 pm Reply with quote

I can't imagine Dennis the Menace as a superhero.

627797.  Tue Oct 20, 2009 12:58 pm Reply with quote

Is that the one who was the manga fan?

Ian Dunn
650979.  Wed Dec 30, 2009 4:29 am Reply with quote

According to recently published documents that have now been released under the 30-year rule, the Japanese had once planned to welcome the newly elected Margaret Thatcher to their country with 20 "karate ladies" when she arrived into the country for an economic summit.

Thatcher turned this down because she did not want to be treated differently from the other delegates at the conference.

Sir John Hunt, the Cabinet Secretary, wrote: "The prime minister would like to be treated in exactly the same manner as the other visiting Heads of Delegation; it is not the degree of protection that is in question but the particular means of carrying it out.

"If other delegation leaders, for example are each being assigned 20 karate gentlemen, the Prime Minister would have no objection to this; but she does not wish to be singled out. She has not had in the past, and does not have now, any female Special Branch officers."

The Japanese were reportedly interest in Thatcher because she was a working mother.

Source: BBC

Alfred E Neuman
650983.  Wed Dec 30, 2009 4:50 am Reply with quote

Ian Dunn wrote:
The Japanese were reportedly interest in Thatcher because she was a working mother.

Given how narrowly her son escaped jail a couple of years ago, I wonder how well it worked.

Ian Dunn
730489.  Thu Jul 29, 2010 2:14 pm Reply with quote

It has just been discovered that the oldest man in Tokyo, Sogen Kato, has actually been dead for 30 years.

It seems he has been mummified. The family claimed that he had: "confined himself in his room more than 30 years ago and became a living Buddha".

One cannot help but think of the Buddhist mummification that was talked about in the "Gothic" episode.

730707.  Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:57 pm Reply with quote

I wonder if Mr Kato was still receiving a pension?

730774.  Sat Jul 31, 2010 4:02 pm Reply with quote

That article suggests that he was, and hints that this very fact may perhaps have had something to do with the family not reporting his death in the usual way.

Ian Dunn
801646.  Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:37 am Reply with quote

Japan is one of the few industrialised nations which still uses hanging as its main form of capital punishment. In 2007, a 31-year long recorded was broken after Japan hanged ten people in ten months.

Source: The A to Z of Punishment of Torture by Irene Thompson, p. 101.

801896.  Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:56 am Reply with quote

Obviously it depends on what you classify as an "industrialised nation". But when it comes down to it, Japan is one of only two countries in the developed world which uses capital punishment at all.

Incidentally, the USA may have to stop before long, because it can't get the lethal injection chemicals. The only company in the US which made one of the chemicals (sodium thiopental) has decided not to make the stuff any more. The US then resorted to buying the stuff from a manufacturer in Britain, but the government has now forbidden that company to export any more to the USA. (And what's more, the stuff brought in from Britain was apparently not very satisfactory.)

Texas has now decided to stop using sodium thiopental, and to use something called pentobarbital instead (even though a number of medical professors say that it doesn't work).

The only manufacturer of pentobarbital is called Lundbeck, and is based in Denmark. It says that much as it doesn't approve, it cannot / will not stop selling the stuff to the US for use in executions. But the Danish Parliament is soon due to debate whether to order the company otherwise.

Mysteriously, there is no mention whatsoever of this issue on the "Corporate Responsibility" page of Lundbeck's website.

Ian Dunn
801903.  Thu Mar 31, 2011 12:11 pm Reply with quote

What is stop the USA from simply using a different method of capital punishment such as the electric chair?

801910.  Thu Mar 31, 2011 1:02 pm Reply with quote

Electric chair is a bit tricky, because some states (notably Nebraska, which consequently switched to lethal injection) have ruled that the electric chair is "cruel and unusual punishment", which the US Constitution forbids. Anyone in the UK who watched Tuesday night's CSI will probably agree.

Two states still allow hanging. One of those is New Hampshire, but NH hasn't performed an execution since 1939 and has no death chamber. NH did issue a death sentence in 2008, but it is generally accepted that it will never be carried out.

The other is Washington, which rather surprised the world by actually carrying out an execution last year under a Democrat governor. It is believed to have the USA's only working gallows, which is tested monthly by "executing" sacks of flour. (Not that making a gallows would be a difficult job for a carpenter.)

Utah used the firing squad (and still does, if so requested by a prisoner who has been on Death Row since before 2004). It was dropped as the state's usual means of execution due to concern that the use of firing squad might count against it when it wanted to host the Olympics. (China had no such qualms, you will note.)

Until 1992, Arizona used the gas chamber (hydrogen cyanide). But in its last execution by gas chamber, the victim took eleven minutes to die and even the Republican Governor conceded that this was rather close to "cruel and unusual".

West Virginia carried out a hanging, drawing, and quartering as recently as 1913, and it was only in 1888 that Utah dropped beheading with an axe from its statute book.

Ian Dunn
801912.  Thu Mar 31, 2011 1:05 pm Reply with quote

Well, I suppose the more prisoners it has alive the more people it has to make all those army helmets for hardly any wages.

801938.  Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:08 pm Reply with quote

I grew up quite close to the state penitentiary (which executes prisoners) . . . it's a really beautiful building.

Anyway, there is still the option of the electric chair in our fair state for those who committed their capital crime(s) before 31 March 1998. (Strangely, March 1998 was a busy time for capital crimes and sentencing in Kentucky.) Of the 34 persons currently on death row, 26 committed their crimes before 31 March 1998. So, Old Sparky may well come out of retirement. The prisoners have the choice between lethal injection and the chair; I'm guessing as long as the cocktail is unavailable, they'll stick with lethal injection.

Also of interest, to me at least: of the 34 inmates on Kentucky's death row, 1 is a (white) female; 5 are African American males; 1 is a Hispanic male; the remaining 27 are white males. More information.

Kentucky was also the site of the last public execution in the United States. (Apparently, the definition of a public execution is a bit tricky.)

There was also this recent Supreme Court case that still surprises me a bit, which originated in Kentucky. Really, to me, it's a bioethical issue. But . . . what isn't a bioethical issue? :P

On a final note, does any one else find the phrase "moratorium on executions" a bit distasteful?

801966.  Thu Mar 31, 2011 5:03 pm Reply with quote

It's a tricky issue. Sodium thiopental must now be considered as unavailable.

I now learn that the company which no longer manufactures it in the USA also has a plant in Italy. But Italy told the company that if it supplied the drug to the USA for use in executions, it would under Italian law face a murder charge every time. So they're not making it in Italy either.

An amendment to Kentucky law which would allow pentobarbital to be used instead would need primary legislation - and since the Kentucky House is currently Democrat held, that might not be easy to pass. And in any case, if the Danish Parliament does as it plans, that drug too will become unavailable to the USA.

So will it have to be the electric chair? I'd imagine that if it were proposed to make it the state's primary method of execution once again, there'd have to be a test case re "cruel and unusual" first.

Of course, the State could always just stop executing people ...


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