The Next Frontier: National Development, Political Change, and the Death Penalty in Asia

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Today, two-thirds of the world's nations have abolished the death penalty, either officially or in practice, due mainly to the campaign to end state executions led by Western European nations. Will this success spread to Asia, where over 95 percent of executions now occur? Do Asian values and traditions support capital punishment, or will development and democratization end executions in the world's most rapidly developing region?

David T. Johnson, an expert on law and society in Asia, and Franklin E. Zimring, a senior authority on capital punishment, combine detailed case studies of the death penalty in Asian nations with cross-national comparisons to identify the critical factors for the future of Asian death penalty policy. The clear trend is away from reliance on state execution and many nations with death penalties in their criminal codes rarely use it. Only the hard-line authoritarian regimes of China, Vietnam, Singapore, and North Korea execute with any frequency, and when authoritarian states experience democratic reforms, the rate of executions drops sharply, as in Taiwan and South Korea. Debunking the myth of "Asian values," Johnson and Zimring demonstrate that politics, rather than culture or tradition, is the major obstacle to the end of executions. Carefully researched and full of valuable lessons, The Next Frontier is the authoritative resource on the death penalty in Asia for scholars, policymakers, and advocates around the world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The Next Frontier is one of the most important death penalty books of our generation. Criminologists around the globe need to tip our collective hats to Johnson and Zimring for producing a truly phenomenal piece of scholarship."--Asian Journal of Criminology

"Anyone who wants to understand the changing use of capital punishment and the prospects for its abolition in the most populous region of the world should read Johnson and Zimring's magisterial and timely analysis."--Roger Hood, Professor Emeritus of Criminology, University of Oxford, and co-author of The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective, Fourth Edition

"This is an important and valuable book. Professors Johnson and Zimring show the political essence of the death penalty in Asia and suggest political reform as the mechanism to end execution in the region. I pay tribute to their endeavor, and I sincerely hope that their work will serve as guidance to the abolition of the death penalty in Asia."--from the Foreword by Kim Dae-jung, 15th President of South Korea and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

"In The Next Frontier, Johnson and Zimring conclude that the Asian propensity for the death penalty is not the result of cultural factors. Instead, they argue, the cause is political...The authors argue that despite the popularity of the death penalty...there is also great ambivalence about it. Populations that profess enthusiasm for executions show little dismay when their leaders do away with them anyway. To influence the region, Australia can try several strategies, but should avoid sermonising, a tactic that would never work in Asia."--The Sydney Morning Herald

"A guide book and tour de force of the death penalty in Asia...This is an excellent treatise, well organised and systematic, in a clear and easily comprehensible style that avoids tedium through a lightness of touch and as much humour as the sobriety of the content might essential reference work...The clear and accessible style renders it of use to all those concerned with the death penalty, especially those in government, legal personnel and above all activists engaged in the struggle to banish the death penalty from society."--Bangkok Post

"The logic, and politics, of the death penalty is heavily under-researched, and so remains poorly understood, in the part of the world that we inhabit. This tremendous effort to investigate the death penalty in Asia is an opportunity to fathom the meaning of punishment, interrogate the nature of state power, and understand how international law has developed, and why."--The Hindu

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195382457
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 2/2/2009
  • Series: Studies in Crime and Public Policy Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 544
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

David T. Johnson is Professor of Sociology at the University of Hawaii and author of The Japanese Way of Justice: Prosecuting Crime in Japan, which received book awards from the American Society of Criminology and the American Sociological Association.

Franklin E. Zimring is the William G. Simon Professor of Law and Wolfen Distinguished Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of The Contradictions of American Capital Punishment (voted a Book of the Year by The Economist).

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Table of Contents

Part I: Issues and Methods
1. Asia and the Future of Capital Punishment
2. Varieties of Capital Punishment in Contemporary Asia
Part II: National Profiles
3. Development without Abolition: Japan in the 21st Century
4. A Lesson Learned: Capital Punishment in the Philippines
5. The Vanguard: The Death Penalty and Political Change in South Korea
6. The Other China: Capital Punishment in Taiwan
7. The Political Origins of Chinese Death Penalty Exceptionalism
Part III: Lessons and Prospects
8. Lessons from Asia
9. The Pace of Change in Asia
Appendix A: Capital Punishment in the Hermit Kingdom of North Korea
Appendix B: One Country, Two Systems: Death Penalty Policy in Hong Kong and Macao
Appendix C: China Lite? The Death Penalty in Vietnam
Appendix D: Death Sentences and Executions in Thailand
Appendix E: The Death Penalty in Singapore
Appendix F: The Death Penalty in India
Appendix G: State-Killing in Asia: On the Relationship between Judicial and Extra-Judicial Executions

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