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Justice Ministry eyes facial recognition, other biometric IDs for immigration control

35 Comments

Trials of a new automatic facial recognition system for immigration control are to begin later this year, the Ministry of Justice announced this week.

The idea was proposed to Justice Minister Toshio Ogawa at a meeting involving a panel of experts, as an alternative to the fingerprint registration system used with non-Japanese visitors, Fuji TV reported. The proposal to allow faster passport control processing using an automatic immigration gate and a fingerprint machine was partially scrapped due to public reservations about fingerprint registration, sources say.

In its place, the panel requested permission to carry out trials with similar systems employing automatic facial, iris and finger vein recognition, Fuji reported.

The ministry says it is aiming to start using the new technologies on a trial basis from this year and finalize the new immigration system by 2014.

© Japan Today

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35 Comments
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Aren't fingerprints enough? What about the "all gaijing look the same" comment one hears so often?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Aren't fingerprints enough?

Come on man, you must have seen all those Mission Impossible films - fingerprints can easily be faked.... :-)

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Good - Anything that makes it quicker to get through immigration. I don't care what I have to give up, if you are legally here it doesn't matter.

-12 ( +1 / -13 )

If I'm reading this correctly, the new system will be for Japanese citizens, who apparently reservations about fingerprint registration. Interesting.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

if you are legally here it doesn't matter.

Not if the fingerprint database is shared with the police. This comment found on the internet sums it up:

First of all, the Japanese police rely heavily on circumstantial evidence followed by an arrest then a confession generally obtained through pressure. This isn’t a cynical evaluation of the justice system here. It is a fact. If they have your fingerprints and a crime is committed and yours are the only ones on file, you can bet you’ll be hauled in and questioned until you confess to the crime even if the only thing that happened was that you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. You never know how your personal data is going to be used. That’s why you’re not supposed to surrender your rights to privacy until you are a reasonable suspect in a criminal investigation.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I would not be happy with facial recognition software. It is notoriously unreliable and I resent the potential for it to be plugged into other surveillance systems like traffic cameras, subway cameras, etc. to track movements without a warrent or consent.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Then go home. Simple. I have to abide by your laws when I visit your country - you abide by mine when you are here.

-15 ( +1 / -16 )

I agree with the Resident, the United States has more intrusive rules and laws concerning immigration controls. When Brazil did a tit for tat of fingerprinting US citizens there was a hue and cry about it. Well, if a country passes laws for its own national security the all those who pass through immigration have to abide by these laws.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

"I would not be happy with facial recognition software. It is notoriously unreliable and I resent the potential for it to be plugged into other surveillance systems like traffic cameras, subway cameras, etc. to track movements without a warrent or consent."

Yes, warrent is needed!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

And guess what folks, DNA samples will be next. Mark my words.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Next will be microchips implanted into skin... You will be nothing if you won't have it and die out of hunger. Or jailed till end of your days.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

NEC is in bad shape financially and they need some government support again...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I believe it works well with Caucasian but not so well with dark Africans

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The proposal to allow faster passport control processing using an automatic immigration gate and a fingerprint machine was partially scrapped due to public reservations about fingerprint registration, sources say.

Are they talking about Japanese people? Cause they finger print all foreigners

4 ( +4 / -0 )

What's the fuzz. Stop reasoning and just follow what Japanese Immigration think good for their security.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I know in Canada and the US, citizens/nationals of either country (including select foreigners) can register for expedited entry. For example in the US there is a program called "global entry" which I use. Fingerprint/photo and background investigation required. Though it costs 100 US, I found worth every penny. On a recent trip, I walked up to the automatic gate and breezed through in seconds, while most people will still in line. If you travel to the US, you know how long those lines can be.

The US system is being tied in with European systems to allow expedited entry. Last year Korea and the US signed an agreement to allow holders of the US program to be integrated with holders of the Korean expedited entry system, allowing people enrolled in both systems to have fast access (trial stages).

In Canada, the Canadian version takes it a step forward more than the US by utilizing Iris scans with it's frequent traveler program in combination with fingerprints.

In both systems the US and Canadian version for border entry, you still need to show a passport (if coming in by air) that matches the information. Border entry is done via a RFID chipped card if you don't have a passport.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

The slide down the slippery slope of totalitarianism began a while back with fingerprinting. A good solution at this point is only travelling domestically. Yes, US and UK are using facial recognition technology under the guise of "safety", but if you believe that, I've got some ocean-front property in Arizona to sell. The sheeple of the world have already sacrificed their liberty for a little safety, soon they'll have none of either. Immigration should be limited to checking passports. That's enough.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

as an alternative to the fingerprint registration system used with non-Japanese visitors

Visitors??? Visitors??? Since when do visitors pay city taxes, work here, get married and have families here? Fish on a bike!

the United States has more intrusive rules and laws concerning immigration controls Such as? I have never had my photo nor fingerprints taken at the US immigration when I have been there - and that was post 9/11. I don't care about having my photo and fingerprinting taken if EVERYONE has to have the same done. Thing is, the locals don't. In the name of terrorism and based on terrorist attacks in Japan, we aren't a threat, they are!

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Yeah there was a bit of an outcry when other countries started matching the U.S. regulations in retaliation, but the majority of Americans realized that they were MATCHING our policies, not going beyond them. "Tit for tat" is regretable, but in the long run we live with it (what else are we going to do?)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I can hear a new theme song for the immigration counter: Domo arigatou Mister Roboto...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

At the end of the day, its a country's responsibility to maintain safety and law & order within their borders, and if they are doing it by fingerprinting or photo scans, then so be it. I'd rather have them catch a wannabe martyr now than after cleaning up the mess and bodies his car bomb created.

In theory, law abiding citizens have nothing to fear when travelling through immigration checkpoints.. in practice, we all know the stories about average people somehow getting put on the global no-fly list and threats of jail time because they have a similar name to a known terrorist.. its not a perfect system by any means but I believe its necessary.

Its the world we live in now people, we aren't going back to the good old days of only metal detectors and turbo-prop airplanes

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"Tit for tat" is regretable, but in the long run we live with it (what else are we going to do?)

Flip those governments the bird.

This is nothing to do with security. This country is safe enough. This is about making a buck. These people don't give a damn if safety is improved or decreased. All they care about is the money. They belong in jail for being the REAL danger to the nation.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@tmarie: Once again, hoplessly out of touch. I have been on Four trips, entered through three airports in the US the last 9 months, fingerprinted and photographed in all. I don't care though, if those are the rules thats how it is.

Love all the thumbs down everybody, also the love the way I have been challenged by you all on speaking the truth.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

if those are the rules thats how it is.

Sorry, but if justice, fairness and freedom mean nothing to you, and it would seem it does by that statement, you are going to get a lot of thumbs down.

A statement like that is a large chunk of the reason the Nazis could take over Germany. And I tell you, one of the reasons so some Jews could escape death there was because they did not have fingerprinting machines and facial recognition software. Imagine if they did. Now realize that a government like that will appear again in a first world nation, because history proves they always do. It sure as hell is not like Japan has a clean slate for 100 years, is it? People still living remember how people were summarily executed not nearly long enough ago.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

@theResident: you remind me of the article that reads "Police officer pushes student off bike; lifts up skirt." Perhaps you can help Japan create the next RoboCop. You seem to be out there. Truly wave of the future!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@tmarie: Once again, hoplessly out of touch. I have been on Four trips, entered through three airports in the US the last 9 months, fingerprinted and photographed in all. I don't care though, if those are the rules thats how it is.

And that's different from what we get here? If you're expecting me to feel sorry for you, a tourist or a businessman getting treated like that, you'd be incorrect. Now if you were a resident of the US and had that happen, you'd have my sympathies because it isn't needed. It is all on file and therefore, shouldn't need to be done every time you return. This proposal bumps it up a notch. It is bad enough we're expected to carry chip cards - cards, which human rights has an issue with, not found in the US - but now this? Japan enjoys our tax dollars, enjoys that we have kids and give them Japanese nationality but yet we can't even be given the same respect at the locals regardless that we're permanent residence or long term residence. From my understanding, that isn't how the US works.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Foreigners in a foreign land have to deal with what ever the authorities choose to dish out, or leave that country, thats the reality of it whether we like it or not, you choose to come here you have to deal with their rules, same as when you go to the U.S. you have to abide by the way they want it or dont enter there.

Don't like it that much either but no alternative unless we all lobby the govt for change or get sympathetic politicians who will treat us with respect, untill that day deal with it.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

My passport contains my fingerprints on a little chip. When I got that I figured immigration services in other countries would simply read my passport for the prints and be done with it. However when I came to Japan last summer they needed my prints and photo, and I highly doubt, that the next time, they will simply check their database against my passport... >_>

We need some sort of global immigration service with branches per country, who all have access to the system and thus can quickly check our prints and such... but that's just a hopefull dream. Co-operation between countries never seems to work all that well.

So until that fatefull day, deal with the rules, they (will) track you all over the globe anyway.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

This is just a pile of crap, jazz, the rez if you cant figure out this stuff well, good luck to you you will need it!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This is SO NOT NEEDED, along with the decline of Japan is a steady decline in overstayers etc, there is simply NO NEED to even think about starting this non-sense.

The supposed reasons for needing this info is bogus & will only be used to control us without any legal recourse & there is a very high chance it cud be used in ways that will do us or society no good.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The problem is that this fingerprint database is not used only for immigration. Based on what I read (correct me if I am wrong), it is shared with the police for criminal investigations. Since only criminals and foreigners have their fingerprints taken in Japan, foreigners risk being falsely incarcerated and convicted if their fingerprints are found on a crime scene. Knowing how the police works here (heavily relying on circumstantial evidence and confession), it might be enough to bring them to jail.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

tmarie:

the United States has more intrusive rules and laws concerning immigration controls Such as? I have never had my photo nor fingerprints taken at the US immigration when I have been there

I take it you're American (or perhaps N. American). If not, then I don't see how you managed to avoid all that unless you're a diplomat or your second name is Antoinette.

As I understand, there are some countries that have these quick entry which uses facial recognition but I'd rather wait a bit longer. I don't want to give away any more personal details. I only registered my prints for the quick entry at Narita only because they've got them already somewhere in their files. I've seen Japanese use these facilities at Narita (very few) but I would never recommend this to any Japanese.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I use the "automatic gate" at Narita, which for non-Japanese isn't automatic at all but at least there's no queue and my passport doesn't get filled with entry and exit stamps. But if the immigration authorities don't trust non-Japanese with the fully automatic gate they have now, that uses fingerprints and a camera, why would they allow them to use a facial recognition system?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I really don't see what everybody is concerned about. If you don't break any laws then what is the problem giving up personal information to immigration? If it speeds up entry to ANY country, I will happily give up biometrics. Really don't see a problem unless you have something to hide....which sounds like some of you giving me thumbs down clearly do..or are just being difficult for the sake of being difficult.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Pukey, the second option but my husband (Japanese) also wasn't fingerprinted.

Res, the issue is that our info isn't just for immigration. Our info is being shared with the police who have a habit of not thinking things out too well. I have ZERO things to hide and would have no problems with any of this if the Japanese nationals also had to have the same things done. Fingerprinting and photos came about as a terrorist prevention. The only terrorist attacks in Japan have been done by... Japanese.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

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