National

Japan to expand use of customs declaration app ahead of Olympics

Kyodo

The government will expand the use of electronic customs declarations at airports to facilitate the entry of inbound passengers ahead of next year’s Tokyo Games.

The system allows passengers to submit customs declarations electronically using a smartphone app while waiting for their baggage, according to Japan Customs.

The e-Gate system, which has already been introduced at one of the terminals at Narita International Airport, will be operated at New Chitose, Haneda, Chubu, Kansai and Fukuoka airports starting next spring. Naha Airport in Okinawa Prefecture will use the system by March 2021, officials said.

Under the system, travelers are required to download the app in advance, and at the e-Gate they scan their chip-equipped passport and the QR code created with the app.

The system is aimed at alleviating a labor crunch at customs lines.

The number of customs officers was beefed up by only 11 percent during the decade through 2018, while inbound visitor traffic grew nearly four times and import declarations more than doubled.

The government also plans to strengthen inspections of international postal parcels and freight from overseas on the back of an increase in drug and gold smuggling.

Tokyo has already started customs inspections using X-ray scanners, and authorities in Osaka and Yokohama plan to follow suit in April.

The government plans to use artificial intelligence in analyzing X-ray images to detect dangerous materials in international postal parcels, with Tokyo customs already testing such a system.

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