The sterile-looking chamber has a trap door in the floor, with a room below into which the hanging condemned fall so they are not visible to observers as they die. Reporters did not see that chamber.
Keiko Chiba, Japan’s Justice Minister, decided to show the room to reporters after witnessing the execution of two prisoners. She said she wanted to spur a nationwide debate on whether the death penalty should exist in Japan and how executions should be performed.
Hanging is specified in the Japanese Penal Code as the method by which executions shall be performed, a practice that dates to the Meiji period (1868-1912).