The Justice Ministry is studying ways to make immigration procedures simpler and faster at the nation's airports.
Justice Minister Hideo Hiraoka said that discussions are being held with immigration security personnel to devise a plan that will involve automatic identity checks at airports, according to a Fuji TV report.
Hiraoka said that the government is considering an automated gate system that would cross-reference the identities of foreign tourists against a database of fingerprints and facial characteristics of registered foreign workers in Japan.
He said the proposed system is devised to speed up the immigration process in order to cope with increasing numbers of tourists to Japan in the future.
Japanese nationals will also be able to pass through automated gates at immigration control, Hiraoka added.
Ministry officials said that many people arriving at Narita airport -- both foreign nationals and Japanese -- have complained about the long lines at immigration, especially during peak times when several aircraft arrive one after the other. Adding to the delays are numerous cases where fingerprint scanners don't work the first time.
Hiraoka has promised an interim report from the discussions by the end of the year, Fuji TV reported.© Japan Today
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...likely to make it simpler for Japanese nationals. Let's enjoy (maximum) comments from non-japanese.
As a permanent resident I love the current system. We have special lines, and the longest I had to wait was less than 3 minutes. When we travel with the family, my Japanese wife can use the same line as me.
Sirt your crappy sniffer dogs out first. One sat next to me which indicated drugs and i was searched at Kansai and had nothing on me.. I don't care what is going on as long as i am not harassed or profiled. Last time i came back the guy at customs said to my wife " Why are you married to him?" as if i was an alien. I gave him the verbal big time, dipstick. Stop racila profiling first.
The longest i wait at Kansai is like maybe 5 min.
Ms Norma; maybe tyou had an entrtainment visa.These guys mostly leave alone exotic ladies from abroad.
I'm with Ebisen on this. I just can't wait for the day when we don't need re-entry permits!
I don't mind the current system. I have been through the airports a lot in Japan and I have never had to wait more than 10 minutes as a visa holder. As a tourist, it took a bit more but nothing to complain abaout. However other airports take at least a good 20 minutes or if it's the US 1 hour or more. I have never felt that I was being racially profiled even though I had my bags searched once. I realize that the reason I was searched was because I went through a country that is known to have lots of dug trafficking.
Apart from feeling like a terrorist every time upon entering Japan it aint so bad. But reason for the fingerprinting was to catch the terrorist-how many have been?
Basically the current system is a failure then........
You enjoy the same system when you are entering into the US. Japan is just catching up with the US system. No big deal.
I really don't see how you were profiled or harassed steve. Nor do I see what that has to do with this proposed system which appears to be designed to expedite the immigration entry process for both Japanese and non-Japanese passport holders alike, While profiling by authorities in U.S. airports is a known issue, particularly for those who appear middle eastern or muslim, I'm at a slight loss as to how one must appear as to be profiled in an airport in Japan. I also find that ensuring that one changes their underwear on a routine daily basis usually keeps the dogs from sniffing you.
@OssanAmerica-the Japanese profile everyone by nationality. Customs require your passport to be shown.
Maybe I'm missing something, whats the point of cross-referencing the identities of tourists with workers in Japan? You're not going to catch any illegals that way, since illegals won't be registered legally to work lol.
Maybe they're trying to devise a system for those 10,000 free tickets to Japan they want to give out next year... Seriously, I highly doubt tourism to Japan is going to jump up in the next few years because of radiation hysteria.
"in order to cope with increasing numbers of tourists to Japan in the future."
The whole program is based on a working hypothesis that is quite optimistic, but not necessarily realistic.
I've never had to wait more than one or two people in the re-entry permit holder line. But those lines for tourists and for Japanese at Narita can be awful!
in order to cope with increasing numbers of tourists to Japan in the future.
Coming from the country who is thinking of offering free flights to foreigners because no one wants to come and visit...
I preferred the old style - no fingerprints and those of us with a visa could join the Japanese line. Was it longer than now? Sure but I didn't get a mug shot taken nor my fingerprints taken which annoys the hell out of me as they certainly have them on record. Unlike the folks in Tokyo, we also can't preregister these.
And, note the words, Tokyo. It took nearly a year before Kansai got the separate line for reentry. Before that, we had to join the long line of non-visa holders and then get out mugs and fingers done while the Japanese whizzed through. Often, my husband would have our bags before I got out of immigration it took so long!
I never believe they are trying to make things easier for "us". It is about making it easier for them!
Actually Steve, to be honest I would also be furious if my husband was asked a question like this at immigration. How insulting!
Forgive me being so crass, but a simple way to make sure that guy never asks that question again would be for your wife to look you up and down, look him up and down and then answer "Isnt it obvious?!"
Are those of us with PR allowed in the Japanese national queue now or not? I am confused. We used to be. Then I wa told we had a separate line. Now I am not sure.
Take my word for it, Narita has never, ever been a problem for me. The officials are always polite and they get you through the process quickly. Try London Heathrow or Hong Kong and see what a nightmare that is. Long, long queues, dirty airports and rude officials. At Heathrow there are more people queuing through the EU line than the non-EU one. Only Heathrow Terminal 5 is civilised.
I can only say that on visits to Japan our process through imigration was quick ,thorough and polite. No complaints
I'm all for an automated system, having used the one at Heathrow for EU citizens for the first time this summer. No humans. I just put my passport down on a reader, looked into a camera, everything must have looked ok, and in less than a minute, the gate opened and I was on my way. Fastest airport immigration I've ever been through.
Unmanned gates would be just fine for everyone.
I'm with OssanAmerica every time I change me pants never have problems with them dogs sniffing for cocaine etc...plus I bet Kansai immigration read many of the nasty arrogant comments so they know who to harrase IMHO, lets watch Out for big brother!! I love the Japanese immigration at Narita but Kansai is just joke! Narita and Haneda are the real Japan right??
An increase in tourist numbers? The tourist numbers have been dropping for quote a few years. I don't know where they get their figures from
I never had to wait long, mostly minutes, once 20 min which is nothing compared to other airports.
The usual immigration questions stopped as soon as me and my wife started traveling with our kids.
Just wait until someone hacks into the system and gets a hold of the database and publishes it on the web.
Fun times ahead, wait for the headlines about confusion, mistakes and illegal detentions at the airports..
The customs workers at Kansai airport are the rudest and most surly people I've ever encountered at any airport. It is the worst part of any visit to Japan, having to deal with them.
Anything that makes arriving and entering Japan less obnoxious is a positive.
I could do without the fingerprinting and the "mug-shots" when coming home here but on my last return to Narita, I had just one person in front of me - guess I really can't complain !
Steve: if you worried about the dogs, don't be. It happens. I have been randomly chosen for for a swabbing of my clothing about 50% of the time. One time I had sunscreen on my bag (it had spilt) and apparently, it shows to have a similar chemical make-up as some drug. After an inspection of my bag and a nice firm pat down in front of everyone, I was sent on my way...and that was in Australia. Maybe people may feel differently about you because of your looks or lifestyle, but I hardly think the dog judged you based on some eye-liner. Sometimes these things happen and the way you handle it can have a big effect on how you are subsequently treated. (Hint: if you throw a foreigner hissy fit it makes people uncomfortable and may even upset your own family)
srala; I didn't say anything or have any kind of fit. My wife was teh went who went nuts when they said the stuff as she was behind me in the queue. I don't mind this stuff is treated ok as it is ok n my eye s to weed out junkies. There was stuff said that was based upn appearance and my wife complained and was assured the staff would treat better in future.
I have no problem with security or Japan but certain behaviour in front of ones family is wrong and that includes aggressive language.
Don't finger print simple.
I hope Sony or Mitsubishi didn't make the databases or the servers.
He is ! And absolutely adorable ! I have a video of his police-training. I couldn't believe my eyes ! Most dogs I've seen being trained have five or six pieces of cloth, each with a different smell and they examine each one before finding the one they're supposed to... Not so for Aramis who went, every time, directly to the to the piece of cloth he was supposed to recognize !
It's weird that people straight away assume that the only people coming into Japan are westerners. News flash! Only 20% of tourists and immigrants are westerners. Most are from other Asian countries.
With the introduction of this new identity card and the abolishment of the re-entry permit, does it mean that permanent residents can only leave Japan for a maximum of one year? I'm assuming that, at present, PRs could leave and not return until their re-entry permit nears expiration date, which, at present, is 3 years.
I've always wondered what the advantage of automatic gates was, apart from saving time in the very rare case that re-entry lines were long. With these gates, you still have to submit to a face scan. They already have our details, automatic gates or not. I think it's strange that only USA and it's two satellite Asian nations do this crap. When will EU have the balls to do the same to these nations? I have PR in another country and, as such, I'm treated in exactly the same way as the locals at immigration. We can also use automatic gates and you don't even have contact with an immigration officer (who is just sitting there in the background). Isn't that the point of automatic gates - you do everything yourself?
The authorities need to make sure these automatic gates work properly. They're not everywhere in Narita either. The last time I used them, which was for both Jp and non-Jp, it wouldn't work properly despite my having used them before. The Jp woman behind me, who was then having a major hissy fit, went through no problems. Now the gates are even racist!
There are already a couple of automatic gates at Narita for departing passengers. Over four or five occasions when I've been leaving Japan, I've only ever seen them used once, and they had two officials walking the Japanese guy through, as he did not understand the system.
I personally don't use it, I don't trust it. I don't want to be the subject of harassment and interrogation when I return to Japan, because the machine did not work properly. I'm happy to wait in the queue for a manual check and stamp, and know that it has been done properly.
Same as the automated boarding pass system, they are all require ground staff to guide the passenger through the system as they all have different interfaces. I would make a guess that these interfaces are designed by programmers and engineers who have never taken a flight in their life.
Actually you are right to be worried. I use those gates and had problems on re-entry a few years ago. For some reason my exit was not recorded in their automated system and I didn't have the officer give me a stamp when I departed. I got it cleared up, but it took a good hour of checking my flight records, etc.
I always get a stamp now.
During the past 40 years, I've flown into and out of Japan through Haneda, Narita, Kansai and Fukuoka. I've had occasional bad experiences, but on the whole I've found the process quite efficient and reasonably quick.
If you want to see arrogant, lazy, inefficient immigration officers and check-in staff, destructive baggage handlers, and appalling disorganization, take a trip to Rome. As a tourist in Japan you're an honored guest. In Italy, you're prey, a cash crop, or road kill.
oh don't get me wrong. i have nothing against legal immigration of productive, educated people. an unmanned system like this is going to be ripe for counterfeit and abuse. korean mafias running the pachinko parlors. filipino "entertainment" workers in the bars and clubs. chinese industrial espionage.
I have enjoyed the fast times to get through the re-entry line when coming through Tokyo but last time had some crazy little woman screaming at me to get in the "gaijin" queue. She literally sprinted across the room to intercept me fgs. Had to pull out my paperwork with a struggling toddler in one hand and a bunch of bags in the other then had a couple interfering oldies from the "japanese" line join in too...so yes, please do automated gates! Unfortunately I can't register for the service at Heathrow as I always travel with my child and I think tey have to be over 16 to register, can see the same thing happening at Narita.
I must choose the wrong lines ...
Seems as if I am always tied up at immigration ... and 10 minutes would seem like a breeze ...
The last time I entered both Seattle and Washington, D.C., airports with my wife, I was treated really badly ... Don't even want to think, or talk, about it ...
Getting into Narita is a dream. Getting into LAX is a nightmare.
That's EBIN x---D ! Just allow me to pass to the territory of Japan in Vakkanai, next I'll walk all the rest way to Tokyo.
Japanese 'alike' are complaining about delays when people are finger printed and it doesn't work well? Sorry, but that doesn't wash. If you're Japanese you enter the 'pure' line-up automatically while your spouse has to choose between visitor or foreigner with a registration card.
So, the reasons they introduced the current finger-print system for will suddenly be moot because they want more people? Does the 'automatic gate' deter terrorism (that was the reason I had to give my fingerprints, I was told)?
Fingerprint scanning makes it look as if only foreigners are the criminals. There are a lot of shady Japanese men coming in from South East Asia. Wouldn't fingerprinting Japanese also alert the authorities as to when a wanted Japanese criminal is trying to escape or come back?
United States military members and federal civilian employees just walk on through with their ID cards. No passports, visa, or alien cards needed.
Based on your comments generally, it's quite nice to hear they were hesitant to let you back in! Look on the bright side....they didn't get the rubber glove out!
I don't mind this development for as long as security will not be at risk.
"in order to cope with increasing numbers of tourists to Japan in the future." What future is that? Surely not the one coming our way....
kurisupisu, that's not "profiling" that's inspecting a passort and it's done in every airport in every country on this planet. And that's certainly not what steve was talking about.
Absolutely agree with you., But I hope you are aware that Japanese and other foreign passport holders go through the exact same photgraph and fingerprinting process when entering the United States.
Re-entering Japan has never been easier if you have a reentry permit, now with a special queue which is virtually empty when I came back here twice earlier this year.
And that's relevant because.....?
Lots of things going on in/by the US that other countries really don't want / need to emulate. Presenting a poor image at port of entry is surely one of them.
I was dismayed to see recently that Malaysia has started this as well. Sad. I hate the security theater we see with this fingerprint nonsense.
Absolutely agree with you., But I hope you are aware that Japanese and other foreign passport holders go through the exact same photgraph and fingerprinting process when entering the United States.
And?? If you're trying to imply I am American that is incorrect. The US does many things that Japan doesn't do and vice versa. What's you point??
Like others, I've never really had an issue at Japanese airports. The staff aren't exactly the friendliest bunch I have encountered, but they are professional so I can't complain. I'm not too keen on the fingerprint thing, but I guess that's the price I have to pay if I want to live/visit here.
There was a period of a few years that my passport was inexplicably red-flagged. I have no idea why because I have never been convicted of a crime - not even a speeding ticket - yet for some reason every time I left or entered the country I had to go to the little office at the side for them to let me through. I actually felt quite lucky, because waiting time was always zero and they were always polite, apologising for making me go to their office instead of lining up with everyone else.
By international standards, going through immigration in Japan is a breeze. You queue up for a bit, put your fingers on a machine, get a picture taken, and occasionally get asked a few questions. Immigration in places like Heathrow is a nightmare.
Introducing the New and Improved Foreigner Immigration Registration Act.
Gaiji: Oh great, I'm so excited. Tell me more
"What have we got for him, Daisuke"
It's a new database. We'll record everything about you. We'll leave no stone unturned, wherever you go, whatever you do, we'll know instantly. Your fingerprints, your DNA, your bloodtype will be recorded like a common criminal.
That's right!! You can come and go as you please for a small sacrifice of your civil liberties.
Gaiji: I'm so happy. No more waiting in line. I feel just like a Japanese citizen now. I finally feel like I'm one of them.
Buzzzzzzz!!! Oh I'm sorry, that's incorrect. -Crowd Moans-
Sorry Johnny, you'll never be one of us but we will be able to process you faster. Repeat that (Slow it down x4) Proooooocesssss Yooooouuuuuu!
Okay now that I've made my argument against this. I simply don't agree. It's not realistic to think that J-GovT is doing anything for us. They're not really trying to make your life easier. I could tell them a dozen ways they could make my life easier and faster airport lines isn't one of them.
Look at this very carefully, a bit more scrutiny on your part and you'll see that this might not be good for the away team. You might as well wear a red shirt next time you come through immigration at the airport.
And of course the away team can also go back and play in their home-stadium, provided they got an opening.
Rules change everywhere all the times, many of the away team also don't like the new rules in their own home-stadium.
So choice which rules we accept and which we don't.
I find it very fast with permanent residency here, but when I fly into Atlanta, it seems to take forever.
Never had a problem with immigration in Tokyo. Never had to wait for long. Don't have the slightest problem with fingerprinting, and I think racial profiling is a great idea. There should be more of it.
Stop whining, and be thankful Japanese let you live in their country. And if they bring in a new system, that's fine by me too.
NetNinja is right.
Don't believe the hype
Narita airport is quite good especially the female custom agents, they are very polite and friendly. Same goes for Vancouver airport, ask a few questions then on your way.
I'm wondering if this is an attempt to make Japan look more welcoming and open
Something I don't understand. Is it me or is the United States the only country in the world where you DO NOT process through immigration upon international departures? There is NO immigration when you leave the country. The airlines only check your documents to ensure you are good to go for the country you are traveling TO, but they don't care about the country you are leaving? No departures stamps in your passport.
Come to Hong Kong, we've had automatic barriers (for residents at least) for years- odd that higher-tech Japan is taking so long to get onto this. Of course if you do come, you might get stuck in a long line for visitors...
what the politics of the DPJ want to further facilitate the entry his comrades Chinese and Korean,that simple.
That's what I thought, after having gone through US many times. But during my last visit, I went through Dulles and we had to show our passports, just before going through the metal detectors (strange, but half the people, incl me, didn't need to go through those new body scanning machines). In fact, I was held up because the girl in front of me was having her passport scrutinized by the officers - apparently there was something wrong with her passport, like visa-overstaying.
Ive had several similar experiences actually. Never a problem with the staff at immigration but definitely with other passengers. Nothing seems to upset a Japanese more than a foreigner in "their" line at the airport! I wonder why that is?
But as you say, still better than Heathrow!
That's total nonsense smith. My wife with a Japanese passport and I, with a U.S, passport can stand in the same line. And what is this "pure" business? Are you confusing Passport with race?
Jannetto, one of the big misunderstandings made about Japan is that is "high-tech" - as anyone who has lived and worked here can attest to, Japanese companies may make the goods, but that doesn't mean they use them. Very ironic, no?
I'm going to open the flood gates here.
I know many of the readers here are in Metropolitan areas. I assume that much. You might have it made. You can cruise down to your local immigration office and get your re-entry permit anytime. You might not know about what they did with the Kanagawa office. It used to be in Yamashita park. Not too far from the Passport center for Japanese citizens.
What did they do? They moved it all way out to the boondocks. You couldn't find that place on Google Earth if you tried. God help you if you don't have a car. You need to take a train, then a bus. The bus rolls through every 30 minutes. It's way out there. As a matter of fact, it doesn't even belong out there but that's where it is. You see my point?!? They made it as INCONVENIENT as possible to access Immigration Services. Now this article wants to talk about making life easier for Mr. Gaiji.
You still don't believe me though. Cause you haven't seen it with your own eyes. Action speaks louder than words. These can't talk to me about making life easier at immigration control when I've seen with my own eyes how inconvenient they've made it for those down in Kanagawa. Report on that.
(Anticipating a Rebuttal) Well, NetNinja, maybe they're downsizing. NetNinja: Okay, but you wouldn't downsize unless you KNEW there wasn't going to be such a high demand.
Why did they move it all the way out there. It's simple. Just the opposite of what Phil DeFranco would say- We don't like YO FACES!!
Justice Minister Hideo Hiraoka said the proposed system is devised to speed up the immigration process in order to cope with increasing numbers of tourists to Japan in the future.
Now this is pipe dream. You know this isn't going to happen. I don't even expect those 10,000 free tickets.