On March 13, 2023 in Japan, Tokyo’s High Court granted a retrial for Iwao Hakamada, a former boxer known as the “longest serving death row” prisoner in the world. He was convicted of murder in 1968. Hideaki Nakagawa, Director of Amnesty International Japan, described the ruling as a “long-overdue chance to deliver some justice to Hakamada.”

Although Hakamada had initially denied the charges brought against him, he claimed he later confessed to the police after being subjected to brutal interrogations and beatings. After the death sentence was imposed, he attempted to retract his confession.

A district court granted him a retrial in 2014, but that ruling was overturned by Tokyo’s High Court in 2016. The country’s Supreme Court then ruled that the Tokyo High Court must reconsider its decision. Hakamada’s sister, Hideko, said: “I was waiting for this day for 57 years and it has come.” Iwao Hakamada is now 87 years old.

The average time on death row from sentencing to execution in the U.S. has grown considerably from about 6 years in 1985 to over 20 years in 2019.


Saim Dušan Inayatullah, Japan orders retri­al of man sen­tenced to death in 1968, DW, March 132023