Japan, Lebanon agree to discuss extradition treaty

Industry

TOKYO — Japan and Lebanon have agreed to hold talks about the one thing that Nissan Motor Co.’s exiled former chairman wishes they would not — the possibility of being able to extradite him back to Japan.

According to Japan’s deputy justice minister, Hiroyuki Yoshiie, the two nations plan to hold working-level negotiations about strengthening cooperation in the judicial field, including discussion of an extradition treaty between the two countries.

Yoshiie visited officials in Lebanon late last month to discuss the fact that Ghosn is living in Lebanon after he jumped bail and fled to Beirut to avoid facing trial in Japan at the end of last year.

“Resolving this issue is a crucial matter to both Japan and Lebanon. Our perceptions about that have completely matched,” Yoshiie said at a press conference here upon his return from the trip.

He refrained from discussing the specifics of his meetings with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Justice Minister Marie-Claude Najem and two other government officials during his visit.

Japan and Lebanon have no extradition treaty, so Lebanon has no diplomatic obligation to return Ghosn to Japan to face trial.

“The Japanese government thinks it is given that Ghosn will face trial at a Japanese court,” Yoshiie said. “I have repeatedly made that case to the Lebanese justice minister and president. I think I have gained their understanding about Japan’s argument.”

Meanwhile, Aoun noted that Lebanon’s judiciary is sovereign and Lebanese citizens and those residing in Lebanon’s territory fall under the country’s jurisdiction, according to Arab News.

Japan has issued an Interpol red notice for Ghosn in an attempt to return him to Japan to face a public trial, which was scheduled to begin in April before his surprise escape on a private jet from the Kansai International Airport.

Yoshiie was told that Ghosn’s passport is in custody of the Lebanese government.

Ghosn has expressed his intentions to stand trial in a country where a fair trial is guaranteed. At a news conference on Jan. 8 in Beirut, Ghosn said he had zero chance of getting a fair trial in Japan.

Ghosn has been charged for underreporting his remuneration, a breach of trust, and misappropriating Nissan funds for personal uses, all of which he denies.

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