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EU adopts Japan crime deal with death penalty opt-out

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EU adopts Japan crime deal with death penalty opt-out

Japan government crest

(LUXEMBOURG) - The European Union adopted Thursday a deal on cooperating in criminal probes with Japan, with a caveat that allows nations to refuse help in cases which could result in the death penalty.

The agreement, the first between the two sides, paves the way for Japan and the 27 EU nations to share evidence, bank information and testimony via video-conferencing as part of criminal investigations.

The deal, approved by EU interior ministers in Luxembourg, contains a clause allowing a European country to refuse to help when "a request concerns an offence punishable by death."

Evidence can be shared with Japan if the country "ensures that it will not use the evidence in any proceedings leading up to the death penalty."

The death penalty is prohibited across the European Union.

Japan is the only industrialised democracy, apart from the United States, to carry out capital punishment -- usually for multiple homicides -- and according to opinion polls has broad public support.

Japan's Justice Minister Keiko Chiba, a foe of capital punishment, announced a review of the death penalty in July after personally witnessing the hangings of two convicts.

EU-Japan agreement on mutual legal assistance

Justice and Home Affairs Council, Luxembourg

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