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Thursday, 18th September 2014
In Japan Travel News,

Facial recognition trials finish at Tokyo airports

Anyone passing through Narita or Haneda airports over the past month is likely to have noticed the facial recognition technology being employed in the lane for Japanese citizens.

Automated systems have been trialled from August 4th and have now ended following extensive testing that will hopefully have the technology up and running in time for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The introduction is a major departure for Japanese immigration, which is carried out in a very traditional fashion that involves plenty of forms, pens and pencils. However, in light of the Japanese capital hosting the sporting extravaganza, the government is seeking quicker ways of getting people off of planes and into the metropolis.

Facial recognition is the first of these initiatives to be put into practice, the idea being that automating the process for Japanese citizens will free up more desks to process international visitors.

Currently, the system is open to Japanese citizens only, provided they have a card in their passports that can be scanned by the machine. Officials from the Justice Ministry said that 25,000 people departing from and arriving at the two airports were scanned during the trial period.

Other changes to be implemented at Narita and Haneda airports include improving their already excellent transport links with Tokyo so that tourists will be able to reach the city all the quicker.

Haneda, the closer of the two to the capital, is also set to become a fast-track destination for business travellers. Customs checks for passengers on business jets will see their waiting times slashed from 30 minutes down to just three.

Related news stories:
Tokyo Skytree gets fast-track ticket (27th February 2015)