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The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry recommended Tuesday that the Justice Ministry take steps to shorten the immigration processing time for foreigners at airports.

The recommendation is intended to help Japan attain its goal of boosting the number of foreign visitors to 10 million a year by 2010.

The internal affairs ministry also proposed that the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry implement steps to improve accommodations for foreign travelers.

The Justice Ministry has set a goal of reducing the entry-procedure time for foreign nationals to an average of 20 minutes at all airports.

However, Haneda airport in Tokyo and Kansai International Airport failed to meet the target in any month last year. Narita International Airport and Central Japan International Airport near Nagoya had only a slightly better success rate.

The internal affairs recommendation calls for the Justice Ministry to review the deployment of immigration control officers at airports to shorten the amount of time foreign nationals must wait.

The recommendation to the tourism ministry includes boosting the number of hotels able to provide a foreign-language service.

In 2007, 40 percent of 1,560 hotels where foreign travelers stayed provided no foreign-language service, though they were registered as hotels offering such a service in line with the international sightseeing hotel law.

No signs written in foreign languages were posted at 41 percent of those hotels.

Alien registration

A bill to enroll foreign nationals living in Japan for more than three months in the nationwide resident registry system together with Japanese was approved by the government Tuesday.

The measure, which the government wants to put into practice in 2012, is in line with the scheduled abolition of the current alien registration system.

The bill would amend the resident registry system to include foreign nationals, who are to provide their names, addresses, nationalities, visa status and duration of stay in Japan.

The new system is intended to help municipalities form a precise picture of the foreign nationals living in their areas and provide them with better welfare and educational services.

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