March 20, 2016 -
In an effort to tighten immigration control and security in advance of the Toyko 2020 Summer Olympics, the Japanese government will start using a facial recognition system at airports to strengthen its ability to catch terrorists and identify criminals or undesirables trying to sneak into the country.
Last September, Japan’s Justice Ministry announced plans to install terminals at various airports to capture photos and fingerprints of foreign visitors.
The new facial recognition system will allow those photos to be compared instantly against law enforcement records.
According to a report in the Nikkei Asian Review, the Justice Ministry asked for 300 million yen ($2.7M USD) in its fiscal 2016 budget to install the system at all immigration sections at airports nationwide.
The ministry created a center for handling intelligence related to foreign visitors last autumn. Using intelligence specialists, this center has begun to obtain biographic data from airlines including the names, ages and nationalities of incoming passengers as well as places they had visited prior to boarding the aircraft.
Almost 20 million foreign visitors travelled to Japan in 2015, an increase of 39% from the previous year.