June 16, 2015 -
Japan’s Ministry of Justice has drafted a new five-year government immigration control plan that calls for greater efforts by the immigration department to identify suspected terrorists, as well as the adoption of a facial recognition system for Japanese citizens, according to government sources cited in a report by The Japan News.
Named shoreline operations, the plan is designed to prevent terrorists from entering the country, especially before and during 2016’s Group of Seven summit meeting in Shima, Mie Prefecture, and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympics.
The draft also recommends the installation and deployment of a facial recognition system based on photographs in order to expedite entry and exit procedures for Japanese citizens.
According to the report’s sources, the security measures will be incorporated into the fifth edition of the Basic Plan for Immigration Control.
The Justice Ministry said it will make the draft available for public feedback before officially approving it.
“It is important to be able to reliably stop terrorists and other threats from entering the country at the shoreline,” said the draft.
Based on a 2014 revision made to the Immigration Control and Refugee-Recognition Law, immigration control authorities have the right to collect passengers’ reservation information from airlines before they arrive.
The draft recommends that passengers’ data ought to be analyzed well in advance to identify known terrorists and other suspects in order to prevent them from entering the country.
Immigration screenings in Japan have been using fingerprints and facial photos since 2007, which have contributed to the 5,219 people being denied entry into the country as of the end of 2014.
The draft proposes that these fingerprint and facial authorization systems should continue to be deployed, in addition to bringing in new technology.
The Japanese government has set a goal of attracting 20 million foreign travelers per annum by 2020 as part of a larger effort to turn Japan into a tourism-oriented country.
The draft also calls for the simplification of immigration procedures, such as allowing foreigners with no criminal record to use automated entry gates that scan fingerprints and passports, instead of interacting with an immigration officer.
The plan also recommends immediately implementing facial recognition systems at automated gates for Japanese citizens to ensure that there is a sufficient number of immigration officers to assist foreign visitors.
Finally, the plan calls for the implementation of a new facial recognition system by the time of the Tokyo Olympics.
The terminal would read facial photo data stored on passport microchips and then compare the data with a facial photo taken by the terminal. If the two images match, the person would be granted access through the gate.