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Agreement with Japan on mutual legal assistance

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Agreement with Japan on mutual legal assistance

This agreement establishes the conditions for the requesting and provision of mutual legal assistance in criminal matters between the European Union (EU) and Japan.


Council Decision 2010/616/EU of 7 October 2010 on the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Union and Japan on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.


The European Union (EU) and Japan negotiated an agreement on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters with a view to establishing more effective cooperation in this field. The agreement, which entered into force on 2 January 2011, is the first "self-standing" mutual legal assistance agreement between the EU and a non-EU country. So far, no individual EU country has concluded such an agreement with Japan.

The agreement applies to the requesting and provision of mutual legal assistance in relation to investigations, prosecutions and other proceedings in criminal matters. It does not apply to extradition, transfer of proceedings in criminal matters and enforcement of sentences, apart from confiscation.

The legal assistance consists of:

  • taking testimonies, including by videoconference;
  • searching and seizing items;
  • obtaining information on bank accounts;
  • examining and locating or identifying persons, items or places;
  • providing items held by the authorities;
  • serving documents;
  • transferring persons in custody for the purpose of testimony;
  • freezing or seizing and confiscating proceeds.

Each EU country and Japan must designate a central authority with responsibility for sending, receiving and responding to requests for assistance. These authorities are also responsible for executing the requests or for transmitting the requests to the authorities with jurisdiction to execute them.

Requests for assistance

The country making a request for assistance must do so in writing. In urgent cases, the request may be made by other reliable means of communication. Requests for assistance must contain certain specific information as set out in the agreement. The requested country may ask for additional information if necessary for executing the request for assistance. The request, together with any other documents, must be accompanied by a translation in the official language of the requested country or in another language as agreed by that country.

Execution of requests

The requested country must execute the request for assistance as swiftly as possible and in accordance with its national law. It may postpone the execution of a request, or make execution subject to specific conditions, if it could interfere with an ongoing investigation, prosecution or other proceeding. The requested country must transmit the result of the execution, together with any testimonies or items obtained, to the requesting country. If it cannot execute a request in whole or in part, it must provide the requesting country with the reasons thereof. Under certain conditions, the requested country may refuse to provide assistance, for example if the request concerns an offence that is punishable by death under the law of the requesting country. When refusing assistance, the requested country must provide the reasons thereof.

Testimonies and statements

The requesting country may only use testimonies, statements, items or information in the investigations, prosecutions or other proceedings for which they were requested. The requested country may impose provisions of confidentiality or other conditions to the use of these data. It may also impose conditions to the transport, maintenance and return of items requested.

To take testimonies or statements, the requested country may use coercive measures if necessary and provided that this is justifiable under its national law. In cases where the person concerned is to be heard as a witness in proceedings of the requesting country, the requested country may allow its competent authorities to take the testimony or statement by videoconference.

Persons, items and places

If necessary and justifiable under its national law, the requested country may use coercive measures to obtain items and to examine persons, items or places.

The requested country must provide the requesting country with records, documents or reports related to the bank accounts of the person under investigation, to the extent that the bank in question possesses the information.

The requested country must provide the requesting country with any publicly available items that its legislative, administrative or judicial authorities possess. It should also provide any non-public items, such as criminal records, that these authorities possess, to the extent and under the same conditions as they are available to its investigative and prosecuting authorities.

The requested country must serve documents and summons to persons requested to appear before the competent authorities of the requesting country. If the presence of a person in custody is requested for testimony, the requested country may temporarily transfer that person to the requesting country. However, the person to be transferred must first give his/her consent and the transfer must be permitted under the law of the requested country.

Confiscation of proceeds

The requested country should assist the requesting country in proceedings related to the freezing or seizure and confiscation of proceeds of crime, as far as it is permitted by its national law. The requesting country must provide the decision of a court or other judicial authority that imposes the confiscation together with its request. If the proceeds are in the custody of the requested country, it may transfer them in whole or in part to the requesting country.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 2010/616/EU



OJ L 271 of 15.10.2010

See also

  • European External Action Service (EEAS) website on Japan

Last updated: 07.02.2011