Japan draft immigration plan aims to bar terror suspects from entry

Japan draft immigration plan aims to bar terror suspects from entry

The draft of a new five-year government immigration control plan includes increased efforts to prevent suspected terrorists from clearing immigration to enter the country, according to government sources.

The approach - known as shoreline operations - is intended to keep terrorists at bay, particularly before and during next year's Group of Seven summit meeting in Shima, Mie Prefecture, and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympics.

The draft also proposes adopting a facial recognition system based on photographs, with a view to expediting entry and exit procedures for Japanese citizens.

The measures will likely be incorporated into the fifth edition of the Basic Plan for Immigration Control, the sources said.

The Justice Ministry plans to make the draft available for public feedback before officially approving it.

In light of such incidents as the hostage crisis in which two Japanese men were held by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the draft states, "It is important to be able to reliably stop terrorists and other threats from entering the country at the shoreline."

A 2014 revision to the Immigration Control and Refugee-Recognition Law allows the immigration control authorities to obtain passengers' reservation information from airlines before they arrive.

The draft proposes analysing this information in advance to identify terrorists and other suspicious people so they can be barred from entering the country.

Since 2007, immigration screenings have used fingerprints and facial photos. As of the end of 2014, 5,219 people had been denied entry into Japan.

These systems should continue to be implemented scrupulously and the introduction of new technology should be considered as necessary, the draft said.

Aiming to transform Japan into a tourism-oriented country, the government has set a goal of attracting an annual 20 million foreign travelers by 2020.

To simplify immigration procedures, the draft makes such recommendations as allowing foreigners with no criminal record to use automated entry gates equipped with terminals that verify fingerprints and passports, instead of speaking to an immigration officer.

The draft cites the need to promptly consider introducing facial recognition systems at automated gates for Japanese citizens so that there are sufficient immigration officers to attend to the surging number of foreign visitors.

A system in which a terminal reads facial photo data stored on passport microchips by the time of the Tokyo Olympics is also highlighted for consideration. If the photo data matches a facial photograph taken by the terminal, the person will be allowed to pass through the gate.

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