The lower house of the Diet has approved an agreement between Japan and the United States to provide mutual access to online fingerprint databases to aid criminal investigations.
The agreement, which was negotiated last year by the two countries, was signed in Tokyo by Japan's National Public Safety Commission chairman and U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, earlier this year. It is expected to be approved by the upper house next month before the end of the current Diet session on June 22
The shared international fingerprint database will be used to assist law enforcement agencies to counter terror, criminal and other threats, both foreign and domestic.
The National Police Agency (NPA) and other investigative bodies in Japan will be provided with corresponding data from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security.
Under the arrangement, all fingerprint data collected over the past few years for anyone previously arrested, or anyone suspected of engaging in criminal acts, will be available in real time.
In Japan, when police arrest suspects or are carrying out an investigation, they will be able to cross-reference a database now containing the fingerprints of over 10 million individuals. In addition, fingerprints of anyone arriving at airports can be matched against the fingerprints in the U.S. database. Where fingerprints match, photos will be provided.
The database does not, however, allow for exchange of data regarding juveniles, or individuals who have been acquitted. Of the 37 countries with which America shares special visa-exemption status, Japan is the first country with which such a program has been established.
The U.S. and Japan already grant access to the files upon written request using paper forms, officials said. However, it is hoped that the new system will speed up the process.© Japan Today