Tokyo: Death by hanging took 14 minutes on average in the 1940s and 1950s in Japan, according to documents recently found by a researcher.
Kenji Nagata, a penology expert, said it is the first time the number of minutes it takes to execute an inmate has been confirmed in official documents, noting the duration is likely to be the same today because no changes have been made to the method of execution.
According to the Japan Times, Nagata, an associate professor at Kansai University, the English-language documents discovered in the National Diet Library have records of 45 hangings from 1948 to 1951.
The documents are 'important for discussing the death penalty and the cruelty of execution by hanging', Nagata said.
They show the start and end times of 46 executions between 1948 and 1951, but one record was illegible. The longest execution time was 21 minutes and the shortest was 10 minutes and 55 seconds. The average was 14 minutes and 17 seconds.
The documents included the names of inmates and their family members, the nature of their crimes, dates of the rulings and scheduled dates and places of executions.
Nagata said the length of executions probably varied because the hanging rope sometimes did not get wrapped around the inmate's neck properly, the report said.
"I believe something similar could be happening even today, and we must consider whether executions that can't be carried out fairly are appropriate," he said.