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Amended Immigration Control Act Requires Foreigners Living in And Coming to Japan to Provide Fingerprints and Mugshots on Arrival

      Partial amendments to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act (the Immigration Control Act) were passed in the Diet and promulgated on 24 May 2006[PDF 169KB]. The amended act requires foreigners who are sixteen years of age or older to provide their fingerprints and photographs at the entry into Japan.
      Consequently all the foreigners are now required to submit their personal identification information to the Japanese authorities, unless they are special permanent residents (as is the case for Korean residents from former occupied Korea and their descendants), under the age of sixteen, diplomats or persons invited by state administrative organizations.
      The amendments build on the Action Plan for Prevention of Terrorism (December 2004), which called for measures against entry of terrorists into Japan.
      During the deliberation process of the bill, many concerns were expressed by human rights organizations as well as parliamentarians belonging to opposition parties about its implications for the protection of human rights. As a result, supplementary resolutions were adopted in both Houses in passing the bill, calling for special considerations in the implementation of the amended provisions. While the supplementary resolution of the House of Representatives contains four items, the one adopted by the House of Councilors takes up eight issues, demanding, for example, that protection of privacy should be ensured after the amended provisions come into force; that the personal identification information should not be kept beyond a reasonable period, after which it should be deleted immediately by appropriate means; that the personal identification information may be used for other purposes than immigration control only after careful considerations and when it is absolutely necessary; and that factual basis for the designation of "terrorists" should be clearly and concretely specified.
      The amendments to the Immigration Control Act were introduced with a view to including the provisions (a) to prevent terrorist attacks, (b) to further facilitate immigration control and (c) to ensure the nationwide implementation of the preferential measures under the Law on Special Zones for Structural Reform.
      The dates of entry into force of the new provisions are specified as follows: (a) (i) the provisions concerning the submission of personal identification information of foreigners at the landing examination are to come into force within eighteen months from the day of promulgation; (ii) the provisions concerning the grounds for deportation of foreign terrorists, on 13 June 2006; and (iii) the provisions obliging the captain of a vessel or aircraft entering Japan to report on passengers and crewmembers in advance, on a day prescribed by a Cabinet order, which shall not exceed one year from the day of promulgation.
      In addition, (b) (i) the provisions simplifying and facilitating landing examination procedures through the introduction of the automated gate system are to come into force within eighteen months from the day of promulgation; (ii) the provisions facilitating deportation by relaxing the principle of repatriation, on 24 November 2006.

For more information, see: "Law for Partial Amendment of the Immigratiand Refugee Recognition Act on Control (Law No. 43 of May 24, 2006) Enacted at the 16" [PDF 169KB]


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