TOKYO: Japan plans to fingerprint foreigners arriving at its ports and airports in a move aimed at preventing terrorism, a Justice Ministry official said yesterday, but the move is opposed by a lawyers' group.
Stricter checks at immigration, including the compulsory photographing and fingerprinting of foreigners on arrival, are laid down in a revised immigration bill the Justice Ministry will present to parliament in the next few months, said Isao Negishi of the ministry's Immigration Bureau.
The revised law would allow Japan to deport any arriving foreigner it considers to be a terrorist, Negishi said.
A Japanese newspaper reported last month that a member of a radical Islamist group banned in Pakistan had entered Japan two years ago to try to establish a foothold in the country. A police report also released last month said the country was at risk of attack because of its close links with the United States.
Japan's Federation of Bar Associations said in a statement on its website that the plans should be abandoned because the fingerprinting of foreigners violated a constitutional requirement to treat people with respect.
The use of biometrics "identifying individuals through techniques such as retinal scanning, face recognition and fingerprinting" raises questions about privacy and control of personal information, the lawyers' group said. It also expressed concern over the difficulty of defining "terrorism."
"We are aware that this information must be treated extremely carefully," Negishi said.
Fingerprinting and photographs were introduced at US immigration checkpoints in 2004.
But the issue is a particularly sensitive one in Japan, where local governments were long required to fingerprint all resident foreigners, including "special permanent residents" of Korean and Chinese origin.
Many of these residents are descendants of those brought to Japan as forced labour before and during World War II.
Source: China Daily