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SOCIETY > Crime

Japan has extradition treaties with U.S. and ROK only

  • March 3, 2021
  • , Sankei , p. 24
  • JMH Translation

Extradition treaties stipulate that the treaty signatories will hand over crime suspects who have fled abroad. Japan has concluded such a treaty with only two countries, the United States and South Korea. According to the Ministry of Justice, it is theoretically possible for suspects to be handed over under the laws of each country even if the two countries have no extradition treaty, but it rarely happens in actual practice because the country requested to deliver the suspect is not obliged to do so.

 

The United States, the United Kingdom, and other Western countries have signed extradition treaties with dozens of countries and in some cases with more than 100 countries. In contrast, Japan has concluded extradition treaties only with the United States and South Korea. A person affiliated with the Ministry of Justice points out that “one of the reasons for this is that Japan has the death penalty.”

 

It is hard for Japan to conclude a treaty with many of the countries that have abolished the death penalty. That is especially true in the case of European countries. This is because those nations must consider the fact that suspects handed over to Japan may be sentenced to death. Another person affiliated with the Ministry of Justice disagrees, saying, “If a slapdash treaty is put in place (with a country that has abolished the death penalty), it could lead to an unequal treaty in which countries do not hand over to Japan suspects who have committed crimes worthy of the death penalty.”

 

According to the White Paper on Crime, the United States handed over 11 suspects to Japan between 2010 and 2019. The treaty with the United States sets certain requirements. For example, the suspected offense must be punishable by the laws of both Contracting Parties by death, life imprisonment, or deprivation of liberty for a period of more than one year. Michael Taylor and others [in the Carlos Ghosn case] were arrested on charges of committing the crime of aiding a criminal to avoid capture, and this crime is subject to penal servitude with a statutory sentence of up to three years and therefore falls under the treaty.

 

However, after the U.S. State Department decided to transfer Michael Taylor and others, the defense filed a civil suit to seek redress: “If you hand them over to Japan, they will not be able to receive a fair trial.” In November last year, a UN working group adopted an opinion stating that “the measures applied [to the defendant Carlos Ghosn] by the Government of Japan constitute arbitrary arrest and detention.” Some were concerned about the impact this might have on the transfer, but the U.S. court dismissed the defense’s appeal.

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