Japan will begin to use facial recognition technology for departing foreign visitors from fiscal 2019. The new system will be available at Haneda airport in Tokyo before being transferred to other big airports including Chiba, Osaka, Fukuoka, Aichi, Hokkaido, and Okinawa prefectures. Travelers place their passports to an electronic device and stand close to a camera in the immigration counters for facial scanning. The system then confirms if the passport photo encrypted on microchips matches the picture taken at the counter. The screening takes about 15 seconds and once the system authenticates the match, the gate opens automatically. An official at the Immigration Services Agency hopes that the new embarkation process will make customs procedures easier for foreigners and will allow immigration staff to do more duties. Moreover, a senior ministry official assured that there would be no cases of misidentification in using the new technology.

Japanese nationals have been using facial screening technology in some airports of the country since 2007. It is just this year when the immigration authorities decided to apply the same system to departing foreign travelers to improve security. The ministry hopes that the system will fortify anti-terrorism measures in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. According to Japan Tourism Agency, the number of foreign visitors reached 31.19 million in 2018 and is seeking to achieve 40 million by 2020.