Foreign arrivals get biometric scan
New system criticized; Narita free of glitches on first day
By JUN HONGO
NARITA, Chiba Pref. — Japan began fingerprinting and photographing foreigners arriving in the country Tuesday under a revised immigration law to keep terrorists out, drawing criticism from rights groups and foreign residents that their data might be abused.
The revised Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law, which cleared the Diet in May 2006, requires all non-Japanese aged 16 and older entering the country, including those with permanent resident status, to provide their biometric data.
The data are checked for matches on the Justice Ministry's no-entry list of foreigners with past criminal records and known international terrorists. Those with matching data are denied entry and face immediate deportation.
Only "special permanent residents," including ethnic Koreans, and those arriving on diplomatic duties and as government guests are exempt. Statistics for 2006 show that some 8 million foreigners may go through the process in a year.
Upon arrival at Narita, Nam had his passport checked by an immigration
official, and was instructed to scan his index fingers and have his photograph
taken. Some 30 people were in line, he said, but he only waited 10 minutes before being scanned.
The Japan Times: Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2007