Photo/IllutrationInvestigators at the scene of the jewelry heist in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward on Nov. 20, 2015 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Three British fugitives wanted for their suspected involvement in a jewelry heist in Tokyo may be handed over to face trial in Japan even though the two countries do not have an extradition treaty.

The case could have important ramifications in light of the fact that Lebanon, another country that doesn't have an extradition treaty with Japan, is harboring high-profile fugitive Carlos Ghosn.

Law enforcement authorities in Japan and Britain are discussing possible extradition in the robbery case and actively sharing information, according to sources privy to the matter.

It would mark the first time for Japan to gain custody of foreign criminal suspects in the absence of a mutual extradition treaty.

The robbery occurred at a Harry Winston store inside the swank Omotesando Hills complex in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward on the night of Nov. 20, 2015.

Three men, who turned out to be British nationals, smashed showcases and made off with 46 items of jewelry, such as rings, worth 106 million yen ($963,850). During the course of the robbery, a male security guard was badly beaten.

The Metropolitan Police Department in Tokyo obtained arrest warrants for the three suspects in October 2017 on suspicion of robbery resulting in bodily injury and other criminal acts.

The trio fled Japan two days after the robbery, prompting Tokyo police to request the International Criminal Police Organization to place them on the international wanted list.

Japan has signed criminal extradition treaties only with the United States and South Korea.

In general, it is considered unlikely that another country would agree to transfer custody of its citizens.

Like Japan, Britain has provisions to punish Britons who commit crimes outside Britain.

But as robbery is not among crimes covered by the rules, Japanese police were unable to request their British counterparts to take action against the trio.

On the other hand, Britain in the past has transferred custody of its citizens, but not to Japan, in the absence of an extradition treaty when the charges against the suspect were incontestable and the judicial system of the country in question was deemed to be trustworthy.

Criminal extradition is a hot topic in Japan after Ghosn, former chairman of Nissan Motor Co., fled to Lebanon to avoid trial for alleged financial misconduct.

Ghosn, 65, was charged with aggravated breach of trust and other charges.

He has been on the Interpol’s wanted list since his dramatic escape.

As Lebanon has not ratified a criminal extradition treaty with Japan, it is deemed unlikely to be willing to hand over Ghosn to Japan.