New Fingerprint/Photo Immigration System Begins, Japanese Media Reports

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    Photo: Justice Minister Hatoyama, a known friend of terrorist sympathizers, demonstrates the new immigration system.

    Japan’s new immigration system began today, and foreigners at Narita Airport were not happy. The system, which requires nearly all non-Japanese entering Japan to have their fingerprints scanned and photos taken, resulted in incredibly long waits. While the old immigration system usually had maximum wait times of about 15-20 minutes (even less for those who are residents with re-entry permits), non-Japanese arriving at Narita were forced to wait over an hour, with some reporting waits in excess of one and a half hours. This long wait could probably be attributed to the greater time each individual foreigner must now spend being processed by immigration, but a few technical problems with the system have also contributed to the frustratingly long waits.

    Not long after passengers from the first international flight of the day started making their way through the immigration one of the machines locked up and became inoperable. It also became apparent that the Japanese government had not carried out realistic tests with the system, as the cameras on the machines proved incapable of photographing the faces of tall foreigners. In such cases, the foreigners in question had to keep re-do their scans until they could properly maneuver themselves into the camera’s range of vision.

    This new system is one of the top stories on Japanese TV news today, and most channels have included mention of the privacy and rights complaints from groups, as well as clips of foreigners who are very annoyed by the long wait. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

    A report from FTV [mentions some of the technical troubles experienced & includes foreigners complaining about the wait (but not the privacy issue) ]:

    A report from TBS [includes some very annoyed non-Japanese who don’t like having their time wasted, including an angry Russian man]:

    A report from NTV [30 seconds of basic information on the system, no mention of the difficulties or issues]

    Have you entered Japan since this morning? Let us know about your experience with the new immigration system!

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