There is a worldwide declining trend in the number of countries that have retained capital punishment since the end of World War II, and the international society has created a series of benchmarks for modern democracies represented by the acquis communautaire by the European Union (EU), and relevant covenants by the United Nations (UN). Despite their efforts to urge Japan to abolish capital punishment, the Japanese government does not try to match it up and is rather running backwards in the international trend retaining inhuman and degrading practices. This paper examines the Japanese institutional and cultural context, and clarifies where the governmental resistance to the anti-death penalty norm stems from. It will critically investigate which institutional frameworks have been constraining anti-death penalty activists from getting involved in Japanese policymaking; and the extent to which cultural factors have been hindering their activities from gaining roots in Japan. Critical assessment of which specific approaches can help EU institutions and other European activist groups influence Japan more effectively concludes this paper.
Japan, European Union, EU-Japan relations, Human rights, Transnational relations of the EU, Norms, Norm diffusion
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