Japan is to introduce facial recognition at automated border control eGates in autumn 2017.
The country is preparing to host the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, and expects more than 40 million overseas passengers in 2020, and 60 million in 2030.
Over 80 million passengers were arriving in or departing from Japan in 2016. Of them, about 30 million were Japanese using Narita, Kansai, Haneda and Chubu airports. The four airports also dealt with about 34 million incoming and outgoing foreign passengers.
To cope with the huge increase in passengers Japan is working to improve its airports, starting with the arrivals process.
The plan is to use the ABC eGates to fast-track Japanese passengers while allowing more officials to screen foreigners.
The new eGates have cameras that take pictures of passengers and compare that with the facial biometric stored in the biometric passport.
Haneda airport in Tokyo is installing 3 eGates, possibly in October, to be used by Japanese passengers on arrival. Narita, Chubu and Kansai are also gradually installing the ABC eGates. These airports deal with about 90 percent of incoming and outgoing Japanese passengers.
The long time to deploy is probably due to Japanese law being amended to allow machines to store disembarkation records on passports, rather than the data being recorded by immigration officials manually applying a stamp.
Fingerprint wasn’t popular
Japan first introduced ABC eGates in 2007. They used fingerprint authentication and it wasn’t popular.
As Japanese passports only have facial biometrics it meant that passengers had to register their fingerprints in advance. No surprise that wasn’t popular.
Foreigners arriving in Japan on a regular basis started using ABC eGates in November 2016.
No news at the moment.
N.B. Image credit: Immigration Bureau of Japan