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2008年5月21日 (水)


05/21/2008 --The Asahi Shimbun, May 20(IHT/Asahi: May 21,2008)

EDITORIAL: Tougher sentencing


In Japan, imprisonment for an indefinite period is the second stiffest sentence after the death penalty. But "indefinite" does not mean the prisoner is locked up for life.


After 10 years of serving their sentence, convicts who are deemed capable of rehabilitation are considered for parole. In recent years, anywhere between a few and more than a dozen such individuals have been paroled every year. 



anywhere between a few and more than a dozen=数人から数十人にわたり)

There is a big difference between life in prison with a possibility of parole and the death penalty.


As a middle alternative, life imprisonment without parole is being considered by a suprapartisan (=nonpartisan or super partisan) group of Diet members set up to examine the nation's sentencing system.


super partisan=超党派=nonpartisan cf. bipartisan=2大政党)

The inaugural meeting was attended by 55 legislators of six political parties. During the next session of the Diet, the group intends to sponsor a bill proposing life imprisonment without parole.


The group's move is attracting attention because both opponents and supporters of the death penalty are on board. What brought them together is the scheduled start of the so-called citizen judge system that starts next May.


be on board=なにかの目的のために集まる、集合する)

citizen judge system=民間人裁判員制度)

Anticipating the dilemma these citizen judges will face when indefinite imprisonment with parole seems too lenient but capital punishment is too severe for the accused on trial, legislators opposed to the death penalty successfully persuaded those in favor to consider an alternative sentence.


dilemma=         板ばさみ)(lenient=寛大な、軽い)

Opponents of the death penalty hope that, even if they have to drop their cause for the time being, this new alternative will at least prevent an increase in death sentences.


even if they have to drop their cause for the time being=当面の間死刑廃止の大義名分の旗印を降ろしても)

(注意: cause=ここでは、大義名分の意味、原因という意味ではない)

Supporters of capital punishment, on the other hand, will be able to rest secure in the knowledge that some criminals will spend the rest of their lives in prison for committing dastardly crimes. In short, by shelving the capital punishment issue, both sides agreed to explore the possibility of introducing life imprisonment without parole.


capital punishment=死刑、極刑)(dastardly=卑劣な、卑怯な)

Whether to go with capital punishment or indefinite imprisonment has never been an easy decision for any judge.


One case in point is the slaying of a young mother and her infant daughter in Hikari, Yamaguchi Prefecture: The district court and the high court handed down different verdicts.


The district court and the high court=下級審と上級審=地方裁判所と高等裁判所)(hand down verdicts=判決をくだす)

In quite a few rulings, the accused was sentenced to indefinite imprisonment, but the judge stressed the need to consider parole "with utmost care."結論は無期懲役としたものの、「仮釈放は慎重に」と付け加えた判決も目立つ。

(quite a few=many=多くの注意:fewのイメージに惑わされないように、意味あいはfewの正反対)


We can imagine that in many such cases, the judges would probably have gone with "life without parole," had there been this option then.


had there been this option then=文法 仮定法過去完了(倒置構文) もし当時その選択肢があれば)

Ordinary citizens who are legal amateurs will obviously agonize over their decisions.



With the citizen judge system due to start in a year, we believe the introduction of life imprisonment without parole as a new sentencing option is a realistic approach.


Some people claim, however, that life without parole can be more brutal than the death sentence.


They point out that some convicts, denied all hope of eventual parole, may become self-destructive out of despair and blow their own chances of rehabilitation.



The suprapartisan (super partisan or nonpartisan) group is said to be considering the possibility of parole for lifers who meet certain conditions.



If this is to be the case, we hope the opinions of prison authorities and others will be thoroughly heeded and the public's voice will be heard extensively before any decision is reached.



In public opinion polls, people who support the death penalty form an overwhelming majority.

But the abolition of capital punishment is a global trend, and there are people who are firmly convinced that this should be the way to go.



The suprapartisan (super partisan or nonpartisan) group is hardly a coalition of like-minded members, but its significance lies in the fact that it calls into question the long-established structure of confrontation over the death penalty issue.



We hope debate will continue on the necessity of capital punishment after the introduction of life imprisonment without parole as a new sentencing option.


--The Asahi Shimbun, May 20(IHT/Asahi: May 21,2008)

朝日新聞 5月20日号(英語版 2008年5月21日発行)


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