The Diet enacted a law Friday that amends the Penal Code to enable Japanese authorities to prosecute crimes committed by foreigners against Japanese abroad.

The House of Councilors unanimously approved the revision. The revised law is expected to take effect early next month.

The existing criminal code only applies to crimes such as sedition and currency forgery that damage social interests protected by law. The revised law adds crimes against individuals, including murder, robbery, rape, abduction and confinement.

These crimes were incorporated in the code when it was established in 1907 but were deleted in 1947.

In applying the code to crimes committed outside Japan, Japanese investigators can exercise their right to investigate in the event a foreign suspect enters Japan. If the suspect is abroad, Japan must ask overseas authorities to hand over the suspect, as was the case under the existing code.

Japan has extradition treaties with the United States and South Korea under which it can ask them to hand over suspects. For other countries, however, it would have to go through Interpol to ask another country if a suspect is present there, and use diplomatic channels to request that the suspect be handed over.

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