Group wants foreign tourists fingerprinted

A Liberal Democratic Party committee on Friday asked the government to consider fingerprinting all foreign visitors to Japan to prevent terrorists from entering the country, party lawmakers said.

The LDP special committee on public security proposed the measure as part of a set of proposals to tighten immigration controls.

It also suggested introducing “preclearance” procedures that tourists must undergo at airports in foreign countries before flying to Japan. The panel also wants the government to check foreign tourists’ biometric information, increase the number of immigration officers at airports and conduct secondary inspections of “suspicious” travelers.

It was recently learned that a Frenchman with suspected links to al-Qaeda had stayed in Japan for a year on a fake passport. The committee said all possible measures must be imposed to block the entry of terrorists to Japan.

The committee also set a goal of reducing by half the estimated 250,000 illegal foreign residents in Japan in five years, cutting the annual number of new illegal residents to 30,000 from 40,000 and increasing the number of deportations to more than 50,000 a year from 40,000.

For Japanese traveling abroad, the committee suggested the government offer an identification card containing biometric data, in the hope of automating procedures at Japanese customs.