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Japan and China are ready to start full negotiations this year on two possible treaties for prisoner transfers and extradition of criminals, following another being discussed to boost cooperation in criminal investigations, according to Japanese sources.

Both countries see a clear path to a substantive agreement on a treaty for cooperating in criminal investigations by the end this year, a goal confirmed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Premier Wen Jiabao during their talks in Tokyo last month, the sources said.

The envisaged treaty on prisoner transfers is aimed at enabling people to do time in their home country for crimes committed in the other country, while the extradition treaty would set conditions and rules for handing over suspects.

Japan has already signed a treaty for prisoner transfers with member states of the Council of Europe and has concluded an extradition treaty with the United States and South Korea.

Experts say there is a need for such treaties because Chinese criminals and prisoners have increased in Japan. But they also say a key task for the two governments is how they can assure appropriate enforcement of sentences, given the disparity in punishments for similar crimes in the two countries.

Some Japanese officials, for example, are wary of extraditing Chinese suspects allegedly involved in corruption in Japan to China because, unlike Japan, they could face the death penalty, the sources said.

“Such an easy handover of crime suspects could raise a human rights problem,” one of the officials reportedly said.

The treaty on criminal investigations for which negotiations are already under way is aimed at enabling investigative authorities in the two countries to exchange evidence and information without going through diplomatic channels. Japan has signed similar treaties with the United States and South Korea.

Japan believes it will be able to reach an agreement with China on the treaty by the end of this year.

Extradition approved

The Tokyo High Court ruled Tuesday that a Chinese man accused of embezzlement in China and now living in Japan should be handed over to the Chinese government.

It will be the first such extradition since 1990.

A 40-year-old former company president currently residing in Osaka is suspected of misappropriating 1 million yuan, or 15 million yen, from a trading company.

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