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Facial recognition to be tested at Japan airports


Japan’s Ministry of Justice will begin trialing facial recognition technology for automated immigration gates at the Narita and Haneda airports later this month to prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, according to a report by Manichi.

The move comes more than a year after NEC announced it is providing a security system for field trials of a “Non-stop Gate” system being carried out by Narita International Airport.

The ministry previously offered automated gates with fingerprint technology, however, travellers must register to use the system and the number of users has slowed down in recent months.

But with the upcoming Olympics less than six years away, the ministry thought it would be a wise choice to implement a new, more rapid screening system to diminish airport crowding.

The ministry’s Immigration Bureau of Japan division said that the new system will analyze facial information from IC chips embedded in passports and cross-check it with pictures of passengers taken at the immigration gate.

The trial run will comprise of a feasibility study for photographs taken of passengers as walk through the immigration gate, and if the results are positive, the ministry will take the system live in 2018.

In 2012, the ministry previously tested the system, which failed to recognize roughly 17 percent of the 29,000 people it scanned. The results led to the decision by officials to temporarily postpone the project.

Held from August 4 through September 5, excluding weekends, the tests will feature five participating companies.

These tests will only apply to Japanese national citizens who have IC chip-embedded passports. All participants testing out the system will still be required to go through a regular check by immigration officials.

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