Facial ID tests to resume at airports

Kyodo

The government plans to resume testing of its facial recognition system at airports in August to prepare for the expected surge in visitors for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, officials said Saturday.

The Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau will resume using the system on Japanese passengers at Haneda and Narita airports for five weeks, after a series of errors in the first test in 2012 led the ministry to delay formal adoption of the system.

Facial recognition systems check passenger photos taken during immigration inspections against data stored in an ID chip in their passports. Britain and Australia also use such systems.

The Immigration Bureau conducted the first test on roughly 29,000 people between August and September 2012, but the system failed to recognize about 17 percent of the passengers.

An expert panel told the ministry in 2013 that it should adopt the facial recognition system so that automated gates can speed up immigration inspections.