Japan is holding talks with South Korea regarding the conclusion of a bilateral extradition treaty, Justice Minister Masahiko Komura said Tuesday.

Komura told a news conference, “I hope the two nations will conclude the treaty as I believe it is necessary for the two nations to strengthen cooperation.”

Talks on the treaty began after the issue was included in the joint declaration adopted by Japan and South Korea in 1999, when Komura was foreign minister.

Japan and South Korea are currently discussing conditions for extradition, including how to deal with Japanese who commit crimes in South Korea and South Koreans who violate Japan’s laws.

At present, Japan only has an extradition treaty with the United States.

In cases of extradition to other countries, the justice minister directs the Tokyo High Public Prosecutor’s Office to extradite offenders, based on requests from overseas governments.

The prosecutors are then meant to submit a request to the Tokyo High Court for it to study the case.

The law stipulates, however, that Japan does not extradite offenders to foreign nations if their crimes are subject to less than three years in prison or are not punishable by Japanese laws.

The law also forbids the extradition of Japanese offenders or political offenders.

The U.S., however, is an exception to this law with Japanese whose extradition is sought for crimes committed in the U.S. subject to extradition.

According to the ministry, 16 people were extradited to five nations from 1990 to 1999.

During the same period, two people were extradited to Japan — one from the U.S. and one from Australia.

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