• Kyodo

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Japan and the United States agreed Friday to sign a treaty under which judicial authorities can directly exchange information on criminal cases without their foreign ministries’ involvement, Japanese officials said.

The accord came at a working-level meeting in Washington of the Justice Ministry and the U.S. Justice Department. The justice ministers of the two countries are expected to sign the treaty as early as this summer, they said.

The treaty will enable the Justice Ministry and Japan’s National Police Agency to directly ask the U.S. Justice Department for cooperation and information, and vice versa.

Japanese law stipulates that the Foreign Ministry serves as the window for international cooperation in investigating criminal cases. Critics say this makes prompt cooperation in investigating cross-border criminal cases difficult. With the signing and ratification of the treaty, Japanese law will be revised.

The agreement will be Japan’s first criminal investigation cooperation treaty.

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