Japan makes visitors pay for their biometric info to be collected

The 1,000 yen tax will be charged on plane and boat tickets and used to fund facial recognition initiatives at airports.

Japan makes visitors pay for their biometric info to be collected

The Japanese government has introduced a new departure tax on passengers leaving the country by sea or air, with the proceeds to be used to fund the facial recognition systems in place at airports.

The 1,000-yen tax will be charged on plane and ship tickets, and will affect both Japanese and foreigners over two years old or those who are in transit with stays exceeding 24 hours.

The government expects to collect around 50 billion yen this year with the tax.

It is the first tax to be introduced in the country in 27 years and is labelled as assisting tourists.

The money collected will be allocated for facial recognition systems at airports that have been touted as expediting immigration procedures and providing greater assistance in foreign languages for those who visit the country.

Last year, Japan received more than 30 million tourists and it is expected to reach 40 million next year, when Tokyo hosts the 2020 Olympic Games.

It was announced in November that passengers travelling through Narita International Airport in Japan would soon be able to clear customs using their face instead of physical identification documents, thanks to a facial recognition trial scheduled to begin at Terminal 3 from April.

The facial recognition technology, courtesy of NEC, will be installed at the customs inspection area at the airport.

The "electronic procedure gate" will be installed at the customs inspection area that passengers move through after being admitted through immigration, NEC explained.

Travellers' identities will be confirmed at a kiosk terminal and at an exit gate equipped with the facial recognition tech. A smartphone app will also be available, and is expected to speed up electronic baggage declaration by enabling travellers to register baggage contents and passport information.

Japan is not the only country introducing biometric capabilities at airports, with Shanghai's Hongqiao International Airport in October unveiling self-service kiosks for flight and baggage check-in, security clearance, and boarding powered by facial recognition technology.

The rollout in China forms part of an ambitious country-wide rollout of facial recognition systems, with similar efforts already under way at airports in Beijing and Nanyang city, in central China's Henan province.

Similarly, some passengers travelling internationally from Australia via Qantas have been trialling biometric technology at Sydney Airport since July, with the first stage using facial recognition for them to complete an automated flight check-in and bag drop, gain access to the lounge, and board the plane itself.

Additional steps proposed for future trials include mobile check-in and automated border processing, which will allow passengers to use their face as their access identification.

With AAP


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