11.12.07

Fingerprinting at Narita, Terminal 2

A friend of mine (TokyoExpat) recently came back through Narita Terminal 2. Here is his experience:

So, I made it through the new immigration checks at Narita T2. I was lucky to get through quickly...

On approach to the immigration section, I could see the hoards of people lining up. I had been expecting the worst and there it was. There were at least 500 people lining up waiting to go through gates. Next to this were the completely empty lines for Japanese passport holders. What a joke.Then I noticed the section in between! A new sectioned signposted with orange signs "re-entry permit holders". There were two gates with only two gaijins waiting. I moved over to that line away from the hundreds and hundreds of people waiting. I felt guilty but glad not be in the queue for another hour or more at least. There were a group of people off to the side as they obviously had some kind of problem. I won't know what the immigration officer was telling them. Were they the terrorists that Japan is looking for? I doubt it as they were school kids - from what I could see. Anyway, now I was almost at the point of submitting my face and fingers to the vast data bank open to Japanese government agencies. Sure enough the kind Japanese immigration office let out a "hai" calling me up before dryly took my passport and entry documentation. No other words passed form his lips as the remaining prompts for me to re-enter Japan came form the cute NEC screen. I was requested by the machine to press my two index fingers on the pads as well as looking into the camera shortly thereafter. Once my passport pages had wastefully been filled with more useless over sized stamps, it was handed back to me. I am now just another biometric piece of data. You could tell the relief of all the Japanese people in the airport as they were safe in the knowledge that thousands of sets of data are now on file.

My experience was over within minutes. My fellow passengers were destined to stay at Narita for a while longer. And what for? Now I am sure that we are one step further on the way to state control as another government has more information on me than they actually need.

6 comments:

Sean said...

I wonder if these gates for re-entry permit holders have been introduced at other airports.

tokyoexpat said...

My guess would be "yes" as I think the system is overwhelmed right now. At Narita, the sheer volume of foreigners passing through means that they probably had to find some kind of solution. At Narita the "Japanese" section has been made smaller to accomodate the re-entry permit holders. Even so, they still have more than enough capacity...

LD said...

Does anyone know whether the re-entry lines allow mixed families to get through together?

ターナー said...

They don't - that's one of the major concerns, as if you have children, the entire family either has to be separated or go through the largest line.

Jon Allen said...

I had exactly the same experience with the short queue for re-entry and huge long queue for the others.

I tried to get my finger prints registered before we on holiday, but they were unable to get a good enough scan or something, even after trying all 10 fingers.

However when I got came to Japan via Narita there was no automatic gates anywhere to be seen. I did wonder what the point of trying to register in advance is.

They did not seem to have any problem scanning my prints at the airport, so either they are using better equipment at the airport, or they still didn't get a decent scan there but they are less fussy?

Lefty said...

It's not entirely clear to me what the issue is here. Don't countries have the right to control their own borders? It doesn't strike me as being particularly intrusive or time-consuming, nor does it give them particularly more information than handing them my passport does.